Buttered Emperor’s Veg

The very day I plan to cook spinach, the supermarket is all out of it. Typical! So I opted for the most spinach-y looking veg, di huang miao — or Basella alba, or emperor’s veg, also known as malabar spinach  or vine spinach, even though it is not related to the true spinach. Confusing? Perhaps. But it was leafy, it was green, and time was running out, so it would have to do.

The original recipe calls for baby spinach, but emperor’s veg works fine too as long as you cook the fibrous stems longer to soften them.


I medium bowl

Total time
13 mins (Prep: 5 mins. Cook: 8 mins)

250g emperor’s veg
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Olive oil
1 knob unsalted butter
1/2 lemon
Sea salt
Coarse pepper

1. Wash veg, cut the ends off stems, and pat dry.  Slice stems. Separate stems from  leaves (stems to be cooked first).
2. Heat olive oil in pan and fry garlic at medium heat till slightly golden-brown. Add stems and cook 3 mins.
3. Add leaves to the pan and mix it around quickly.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Add butter and continue mixing spinach at medium heat. Squeeze lemon juice over.
6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

– No need to thicken the sauce since this is a mucinous vegetable. (Bet they don’t write that in the menu description.)
– Dry the vegetable thoroughly after rinsing. You don’t want to water down the sauce.


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