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This was made to go with steak in lieu of spinach. It has a similar texture, but doesn’t carry that oxalic acid texture that spinach sometimes has that makes the teeth feel furry. Also, mei-quin has a brighter flavor that goes well with hanger or flap steak and grass fed beef, and makes a nice foil to the flavor imbued by grilling.
1 bunch mei-quin choi
1 small brown or white onion, halved through the root and peeled
1-2 medium cloves garlic, peeled and very finely minced with a really sharp knife
Salt and pepper to taste
¼ cup white wine
Water as needed, or light flavored vegetable stock
1 tablespoon high quality butter
Grapeseed oil or light flavored olive oil
Trim the base of the mei-quin heads to release each “branch” of the head from the base. Cut off the leaves and keep separate. Cut any branch wider than ¾ inch in half lengthwise. Wash and drain parts separately, and reserve.
Cut away the root and then cut the onion radially into 3/16ths inch wide strips. Separate and reserve.
Heat a large sauteuse or fry pan with a lid over medium heat. When the pan is hot, film well with oil and heat oil until shivering. Lower heat to medium-low, and add the onions. Toss to coat and cook without coloring for 5 minutes to soften the onions.
Add a little more oil if it is not coating the pan floor. Add the onions and cook gently until it is aromatic. Add the chard branches, reserving the leaves. Toss everything to coat with oil and mix together.
Add the wine and put a top on the pan. Cook gently until the wine is almost entirely evaporated.
Add a ¼ cup water or stock and replace the lid. Gently cook without coloring until the branches of mei-quin are soft yet still retain some structure. They should be very tender and silky along with the onions. Add liquid as needed until this stage is reached. Add the leaves and an ounce of liquid, and put the lid on. Let the leaves steam until tender.
Season with salt and pepper and add the butter. Swirl the pan as the butter melts so it forms a glaze on the vegetables.
The veg is ready to serve.
Chef’s Tip: For this dish, it is important to use high-quality, high-fat, low-water butter to achieve the glaze like effect on the vegetables. Use this under steak as intended, or serve as a side anywhere spinach would appear.
Source: Chef Andrew E Cohen
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