Best of Modern British Cookery
by Sarah Freeman
In this, the spices are sufficiently evident to be interesting but not so potent as to overwhelm either the taste of the spinach itself or plain or delicately flavoured accompaniments: in particular, I recommend it with lamb chops or steaks, grilled or baked salmon, or salmon fish cakes.
If possible, avoid beet spinach, which has large leaves, thick stems, and a less distinctive flavour than ordinary spinach. The ideal choice is organic spinach on the root, which often has more taste than the conventionally grown equivalent and tends to be in better condition than single leaves.
As in other recipes, I have left the spices whole, which not only saves time, but adds a nutty texture to the dish.
The spinach can be boiled up to 24 hours in advance. Allow 5-6 minutes for boiling and 6-7 minutes for frying it with the spices just before serving.
• 14 oz spinach
• 3 oz shallots
• 3/4-inch knob root ginger
• 4 fair-sized cloves garlic
• 1/2 lemon
• 1 oz butter
• 1 tablespoonful oil
• 1 teaspoonful cumin seeds
• 2 teaspoonsful coriander seeds
Pick over and wash the spinach, twice if necessary (even ready-washed spinach should be rinsed, partly because the water clinging to the leaves is needed for cooking). Pack it into a saucepan with a lid and add a moderate seasoning of salt (but no water: added water will detract from the flavour). Cover the pan and set it over low to medium heat for 4 minutes: stir and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes more or until the spinach is tender and submerged in liquid. Drain it over a bowl, pressing out surplus moisture with the back of a spoon, and chop it roughly; set the liquor aside. If you are boiling it in advance, allow it to cool, cover, and chill (you should also cover and chill at least a tablespoonful of the liquor).
Peel and finely slice the shallots; peel and finely chop the ginger and garlic, removing any fibrous patches on the ginger. Squeeze the lemon. Melt the butter in the oil over medium heat and fry the shallots for 2 minutes, turning often. Add the ginger and garlic and fry 2-3 minutes more or until the shallots are starting to change colour; turn constantly Add the cumin and coriander and fry for 30-40 seconds, turning continuously. Add 1 tablespoonful lemon juice, reduce the heat to low, and stir in the spinach with 1 tablespoonful of the spinach water. Season moderately with pepper and turn for 1-2 minutes, until the spinach is thoroughly heated through and mixed with the flavourings. Serve at once.