A few days ago, my mother invited her friends over for lunch. One of the dishes she served was Spinach with Tofu and Preserved Duck Egg. Her friends really enjoyed the dish and asked for the recipe. My mother says this is one of her family’s signature dishes. I have been eating it ever since I can remember. My mother learned the dish from her father, who was from Yangzhou. Therefore I can only assume this is a common dish in Huaiyang (淮揚) cuisine.
The dish certainly fits the characteristics of Huaiyang cooking, which emphasizes the natural tastes of the ingredients and knife works. The dish is very simple to make as there are only three ingredients: spinach, tofu, and preserved egg. Since this is home cooking, we do everything, as the French would say, “au pif” or by the nose.
First, cook the spinach in a large pot of boiling salted water for a minute or two. The bigger the pot the better, so the water stays hot. Dump the spinach immediately into a bowl of ice cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. Squeeze the collapsed spinach to drain out as much water as possible. Dry and finely chop the spinach.
Second, gently cook the dried tofu in some boiling water to soften and then finely dice. Finally, cut the preserved egg into pieces similar to the tofu. Mix the spinach, tofu, and preserved egg, seasoned with some light soy sauce and finish with some drizzle of sesame oil. Serve.