Stir-fried spinach with shrimp paste and Thai peppers

Here’s another easy and comforting recipe. I served it alongside a braised pork dish, and the spiciness of the spinach contrasted quite well with the natural sweetness of the pork.

Stir-fried spinach

Stir-fried spinach

Begin with lots of fresh spinach, about a half-pound per person. I used baby spinach today, because that was the best pick in the market this morning. Any spinach will do, including varieties with much larger leaves.

Fresh spinach

Fresh baby spinach

Next, you need some shrimp paste. This brings salt to the dish, as well as savory umami goodness.

Shrimp paste

Shrimp paste

The spiciness in this recipe comes from pickled Thai chiles.

Pickled Thai chiles

Pickled Thai chiles

When your ingredients are ready, stir-fry garlic and ginger in your wok. Then add the spinach and some rice wine. Then finish off with the shrimp paste and the chiles. That’s all there is to it.

Spinach in the wok

Spinach and all the other ingredients in the wok, moments before serving


  1. 1 clove garlic and an equal amount of ginger, minced finely
  2. 2 lbs spinach (half-pound per person), 2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  3. 1/2 Tbsp shrimp paste, 3-5 pickled Thai chiles, seeded and very finely chopped


  • Heat your wok until barely smoking. Then add 1 Tbsp peanut oil and swirl it around. Add the garlic and ginger (#1) and stir-fry for about 30 seconds until fragrant but not browning.
  • Then add the spinach and the wine (#2); stir-fry until the spinach is about half-wilted. It will be better if the leaves retain some definition, so be careful not to overcook.
  • Stir in the shrimp paste and the chopped Thai chiles (#3), stir-fry for a few more seconds, and then serve.

Variations: Start with using different greens (less delicate greens will need to cook longer). You can also substitute mirin for the darker Shaoxing wine. Also, you can make a vegan version just by substituting soy sauce for the shrimp paste. For a different flavor, add 1-2 tsp finely chopped lemongrass or a whole kaffir lime leaf to #1.

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