Peel the ginger and slice it into four 1/4-inch coins. Using the flat side of a chef’s knife or a meat pounder, smash the coins. Smash the garlic and remove the skin.
In a medium saucepan, combine the ginger, garlic, chicken, broth, soy sauce, lemon juice, chile paste, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate. Use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger and garlic and discard. Keep the broth warm.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, mince the scallions and cilantro, transfer to a small bowl to combine with the oil, and scrape the mixture back onto a cutting board. Position the blade of a chef’s knife at a 30-degree angle to the board and repeatedly drag the blade over the cilantro mixture using a bit of pressure to mash it.
Finely chop the cilantro and scallion. Put them in a mortar, add a pinch of salt and 2 tsp. of the oil, and pound and mash with the pestle (see tip). Once the mixture begins to blend, add the remaining teaspoon of oil. Continue to grind the pestle into the cilantro mixture until it is aromatic and has the consistency of a paste.
Once the chicken is cool, slice it thinly and portion it into four soup bowls. Return the broth to a simmer and season with salt to taste. Add the spinach to the broth and continue to simmer until it’s wilted, 1 to 2 minutes more. Ladle the broth and spinach evenly over each portion of chicken and then top each with a dollop of the cilantro paste.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on four servings;
Photo: Scott Phillips