Spinach with Baby Abalone

This is a 20-minute recipe for Chinese-style spinach with baby abalone. During Chinese New Year, I added canned baby abalones to spinach to make it a festive dish. Abalone is not a must in this recipe though. Since I cook this dish all year round, I usually serve the spinach with carrots, broccoli, or just on its own. The abalone can also be substituted with the more affordable canned pacific/razor clams or limpets.

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Phuay Leng (Chinese Spinach)

The spinach used is “phuay (puay) leng” (pictured above), where the leaves resemble western baby spinach (but at a fraction of the price). Simply cut the stems to shorter lengths and they are ready for use.  After cooking, both the leaves and stems are softly tender. The ease of preparation makes it my choice spinach to cook with these days. This recipe will work with local sharp or round spinach too, but you need to snap the stems to shorter lengths, pulling to discard the “strings” before cooking (to remove the woody texture of the stems).

Chinese Spinach with Baby Abalone Recipe

Chinese Spinach with Baby Abalone Recipe

In place of baby abalone, you can also use one or more of the following: sliced abalone, canned pacific or razor clams, limpets and broccoli.

In place of phuay leng, you can use local sharp or round spinach too – Snap the stems to shorter lengths, pulling to discard the “strings” before cooking.


  • 250 grams spinach (phuay leng) 菠菜
  • 4 to 8 baby abalones from the can; drained
  • 8 slices carrot sliced thinly (optional: cut to flower shapes)
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil

(A) Sauce

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1/4 tsp dark soy sauce
  • corn starch solution dissolve 1 tbsp cornstarch in 2 tbsp water


  1. Separate spinach stems from leaves. If spinach leaves are large, cut into two. Cut stems to 2.5 cm (1 inch). Wash and drain the spinach.
  2. In a pot, bring water with 1 tsp vegetable oil to boil. Add carrot slices and spinach stems. After 1 min 30 seconds, take out the stems with a slotted ladle. Drain and arrange the cooked stems in a the middle of a large serving plate.
  3. Add spinach leaves to the pot and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the spinach leaves through a ladle and run through tap water briefly to cool. Squeeze out the excess water from the leaves. Shape the spinach leaves to a ball in the middle of serving plate.
  4. Dish out carrot and set aside. Warm the canned baby abalones in the pot for about a minute. Set aside.
  5. In a clean saucepan, bring (A) to simmer, thickening with cornstarch solution until the desired consistency (semi-thick resembling maple syrup) is reached.
  6. Pour sauce over spinach. Decorate with carrot and abalone before serving.