In a large basin of water, add 2 tsp of salt in the water to wash the spinach.
Rinse it with clean water 2-3 times to get rid of the sand and mud.
Cut it into 2 ” lengthwise, separating the stalk and the leaves.
Peel the garlic, wash and slice it thinly, then set aside.
Slice the abalone into thin slices and keep the brine for later use.
Lightly rinse the wolf berries and drain dry.
Fill the wok with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Once boiling, add in 1 tsp of salt and 2 Tbsp of oil.
Put in the spinach stalk to blanch for 2 mins, then add in all the leaves and continue to blanch for another 8 mins or until limp.
Turn off the heat and pour the vegetable into a metal colander to drain dry.
Add 2 Tbsp of oil in the wok over high heat. Fry the garlic slices until golden and crisp. Remove the garlic slices for later use, leaving the oil in the wok.
Put the spinach back into the wok with the garlic oil and toss it for 2-3 mins mixing well with the oil. Transfer it to a platter.
Pour the brine (from the abalone) into the wok and bring to a boil. Add in 1 Tbsp of oyster sauce and mix well.
Mix 1.5 tsp cornflour with 2 Tbsp of water and add to the brine. Lower the heat and continue to simmer until the gravy thickens.
Add in the sliced abalone and cook for 1-2 mins, then add in the wolf berries.
Pour the gravy over the spinach and drizzle some sesame oil over it.
Top the spinach with the crispy garlic and serve hot.
Buy the Chinese Spinach (Phuay Leng) from Cameron Highlands. The nice and very green-looking spinach that are nicely packed are sold in the supermarkets are usually from China and they are usually taste bitter.
There are many different types of Spinach, make sure you are getting the right one - Phuay Leng. It is easily distinguishable from other varieties of spinach such as Round Spinach, Sharp Spinach and Baby Spinach, because Phuay Leng is the only one with only one leaf per stalk.
Australia abalone is softer whereas the New Zealand ones are firmer and more chewy in texture. Choose whichever one you like. It is better to buy a can containing one large abalone than the one with a one whole and 1/2 piece. The can with one whole abalone is of a better quality. It is the quality that counts and not the quantity.
Do not over-blanch the spinach otherwise it will turn blackish in color.
Do not add salt directly to the spinach otherwise it will have a stinging effect on your tongue.
Do not slice the abalone too thinly otherwise there won't be substance when you bite into it.
Do not cook the abalone, just warm it up in the gravy. Otherwise it will become rubbery and it is such a waste as abalone is an expensive ingredient.
Be careful not to add too much oyster sauce. The brine is high in sodium, so the level of saltiness varies in different cans of abalone.
Add more cornflour mixture if the gravy is too diluted. If it is too thick, add a little more water. You must remember that the spinach will also let out some water, so even if the gravy is a little thicker, it is still ok.