San Francisco has an Indian summer for at least one week every year, when the temperatures can reach eighty or ninety degrees. It was then that Mama would make us Shrimp with Spinach and Tofu, a dish she remembers eating in Shanghai in the summer, when the weather was unbearably hot. We always ate it chilled and the fragrance of the sesame oil suits the cooling and refreshing taste of the spinach and tofu. Squeeze as much water as you can from the cooked spinach or the excess water will dilute the flavors.
2 squares firm tofu, about 6 ounces
1 1/2 pounds spinach, preferably young
2 tablespoons small Chinese dried shrimp, rised
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a 1 1/2-quart saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil over high heat. Add the tofu and return to a boil. With a slotted spoon, remove the tofu and place on a rack to cool.
Remove all stems from the spinach. Wash spinach in several changes of cold water and drain thoroughly in a colander. Return water to a boil over high heat, and add the spinach. Cook until it is just limp, about 30 seconds. Drain and rinse under cold water.
Squeeze the spinach to remove excess water and form into a tight ball. Chop the spinach by cutting the ball into 1/4-inch slices. Place the spinach in a large bowl.
Cut the tofu into 1/8-inch dice. Finely chop the shrimp. Add the sesame oil, salt, tofu, and shrimp to the spinach, and toss to combine. Chill, if desired, or serve at room temperature.
Serves 4 to 6 as part of a multicourse meal.
Taken from Grace Young’s book “The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen” with permission. © Grace Young. Published by Simon & Schuster, Inc. ISBN 0-684-84739-6.