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Creamed spinach is not the place my mind jumps to when thinking about modern cooking. Most iterations of the dish are stodgy, cream-leaden bowls of green mush. But Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot's version in their new cookbook, Maximum Flavor, is far from old-fashioned. Seasoned with potent homemade citrus kosho (a blend of zest, chiles, lemongrass, and salt) and a puréed mixture of onion and garlic, their creamed spinach is bright and spicy. The final dollop of dairy—in this case, crème fraîche—balances instead of deadens the flavor.
Why I picked this recipe: I wanted to see how well the Japanese profile of the kosho would work with such an American side dish.
What worked: This is creamed spinach like I'd never had before—tangy and spicy with just a gentle touch of richness.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: If you don't want to make the citrus kosho yourself, you can use store-bought yuzo kosho—it'll cut the cooking time down to mere minutes. This recipe would work well with any leafy green.