Chop Suey


The second Chinese theme recipe which Marian shared in the South Arm Cooking Club for Seniors is Mix Vegetables Stir Fry which also common known as Chop Suey.

Chop-Suey-18

You can be creative in this recipe that you can used up all the leftover vegetables and meat. It is a great recipe to clear your refrigerator.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chicken, cut up into bite size
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into flowerets
  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup cauliflower, cut into flowerets
  • 1 cup snap peas
  • 1 medium carrot, scrub and thinly sliced into coins shape
  • 1 red pepper, cut into medium pieces, same size of the carrot
  • 1 can chestnut or fresh ones
  • 1 can baby corns
  • 1 can mushroom of your choice, Marian used oyster mushroom in this recipe
  • 1 medium onion, peel and slice
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce or soy sauce
  • garlic powder, ginger powder, salt and pepper to marinate chicken
  • cooking oil
  • sesame oil

Chop-Suey-1

Source: Marian

Serves 4


Instructions

Chop-Suey-2Cut the chicken breast into fairly large pieces. Marinate with some garlic powder, ginger powder, salt and pepper.
Chop-Suey-3Rinse and drain the can oyster mushroom.

Likewise for the water chestnuts and baby corns. If the water chestnut is whole, slice them into thinner slices.

Chop-Suey-4Grab or cut the tip of each snow pea and pull out the tough string that runs along its side. Cut the snow peas into smaller pieces if desired.
Chop-Suey-8In order to speed up the cooking time, Marian blanched the vegetables first in some salted boiling water. Marian used to have a restaurant in the Philipines before her family immigrated to Canada. She told us that restaurant usually blanched the vegetables first to speed up the cooking time. However, for home cooking, it is not advisable to do so because nutrients will be lost during the blanching process. However, it is alright to blanch carrot and broccoli to bring out their vibrant colour.Carrot is a vegetable that can be eaten raw or uncooked but cooking carrots will break down the fiber in the beta-carotene, making it more usable to the body.
Chop-Suey-9Use a shallow sieve to pick up the vegetables from the blanching liquid. Repeat for the rest of the vegetables, except for bell pepper.
Chop-Suey-10In a large frying pan, saute the garlic with some oil.
Chop-Suey-11Add the onions and cook until the onion is soft.
Chop-Suey-12Add the marinated chicken pieces. Let the chicken brown on the bottom before flipping them over to brown on the other side.
Chop-Suey-13Add all the vegetables at once since Marian had blanched them, other wise, add the more hardy vegetables first to evenly cook the vegetables.
Chop-Suey-14Add some water to simmer the vegetables until tender.
Chop-Suey-15Season with oyster sauce or soy sauce to taste. If the sauce is too runny, thicken it by adding some cornstarch solution, a little at a time.

Flavour with sesame oil at the end.

Serve hot with steamed rice.

36 thoughts on “Chop Suey

  1. “we should eat more bean sprout…”

    I couldn’t agree more. They are delicious raw or in a stir fry. At home though, as someone mentioned above, it is difficult to get the wok he which makes them taste that much better.

  2. My family comes from Guangdong. I grew up in Hong Kong. There is no dish called chop suey. Bean sprout is not a filler but a main ingredient in a simple dish by itself, only need ginger to started the cooking and nothing else. It is only a home dish and never make it to the restaurants. I have only learned this chop suey in Canada and find it interesting. Those who don’t like it may be because the restaurant is not up to quality. An authentic and high standard restaurant in Toronto hardly offer this chop suey. In addition, the bean sprout here are not as tasty as back home and do need other vegetable for added flavor. May be that’s why chop suey is created.

      • I believe so. May be in early days, the bean sprouts are expansive as mung beans are not a common bean here in America. The bean sprouts used to have long roots that my mom has to break them away one by one before it can be used for cooking. That is time consuming and restaurants may find it too labor costly. this give another reason for adding other vegetables to the dish.
        To day, the sprouting process has improved(really?) by using chemicals or whatever to become today’s appearance and price.
        Now matter how it is changed/cooked, we should eat more bean sprout because it is highly nutritional.

  3. This Chinese vegetables dish or chop suey was not originated in America, in Indonesia this cheap vegetable dish is called “Chap Chaei” or mix vegetable has been served in restaurant long long time ago and only the restaurant cook it, no body at home cook Chap Chaei.

    • Hi James: For what it’s worth, the wikipedia entry for Chop Suey (here) did not mention anything of Indonesia at all. It did mention it available in the Philippines and the Polynesian islands though. However, I did do further google and found this interesting article. It mentions that the Indonesian style Chop Suey should have 10 different ingredients. Thanks for sharing this. Ben

    • Hi Pinoy Gourmet: I just checked Foo’s Ho Ho website and they did have a section that talks about Chop Suey (here) although it was not on the menu section. Thanks for the hint. Ben

    • Hi Lily: I guess if there is anyone who would know I think it would be you. If there is one place in Vancouver I could go for Chop Suey, where would it be? Ben

      • Hahaha… my mother’s kitchen. Perhaps you could get a great hot bowl of her famous Cantonese soups as an appy!?! No seriously, I’ve never ordered a plate of chop suey at any place in Vancouver. My family will order chow choy (stir-fry vegetable) or chow see choy (stir-fry seasonal vegetable) as an entree item at dinner, but never chop suey. My mother will make it at home occasionally when she’s trying to clean out the fridge, but it’s hard to achieve the wok hei at home.

      • Our family would never order chop suey in a restaurant because as a “mish-mash” dish you couldn’t tell whether everything in it was fresh. My mother would always say there might be some day(s) old ingredients; same for the fried rice.

      • You could say that about almost any food(soup, stir fries,curries, etc) though, especially ones that are covered with sauces. Plus, you can usually tell by the crispness and color of a vegetable whether it is old or not. A good chop suey should have vegetables that still have a bite to them. If the components are mushy and discolored (that goes for meat too)…. well, then I wouldn’t eat it either.

      • I am not sure about chop suey. Fried rice can only be done good if using day old cooked rice. Fresh cook rice can’t give that texture and tend to lump together. Using day old ingredients is how it is originally done at home when I was a kid. It is a dish that you use up all left over from previous day, much like cold cuts being used in sandwiches. However, there are restaurants do use fresh cook ingredients for fried rice. It is made fancy and find its way to the restaurant and being served at wedding dinner parties.

      • One way around that, is to take fresh-cooked rice from the rice cooker and dump it on a large cookie sheet (pre-sprayed with cooking spray to avoid sticking). Spread the rice out flat as much as possible. Then “flash freeze” the rice by putting the tray in your freezer (hopefully it fits) for 10 mins or more, depending on your time.

        This works for me if I were making impromptu fried rice and didn’t have enough leftover rice in the fridge.

        Dunno about others, but when I make fried rice I generally cook the separate ingredients in batches, and the final combining of them with the rice is only a brief duration to meld all the flavours and any additional flavouring agents (soy sauce, sesame oil, salt & pepper, Worcestershire) as needed.

  4. I view the chop suey dish as a historic, survival dish for the immigrants ….to eat and to also make money.

    For those of us who were born and grew up in small Canadian towns (for me it was in Caledonia, outside of Hamilton, Ontario. I was born in 1959… then grew up in the German-based Twin cities of Kitchener-Waterloo), these types of dishes evoke real memories how difficult it was to get Asian ingredients outside of Toronto.

    Remember the Chinese-Canadians got their right to vote in 1947, so history is still very close to us..those hard times.

    And even less than 10 years ago, when we go cycling in rural areas across Canada, I have occasionally dropped by a Chinese restaurant where that ends up on the menu. I don’t choose to have only Chinese food,but sometimes it’s the only healthy option in town.

  5. This book is a good historical research/coverage of “N. Americanized” Chinese cooking (incl. the much-debated chop suey), in the context of Chinese restaurants operated by early immigrants: http://goo.gl/CWOS5

    And to put the book in context, John Jung was here in summer 2010 to speak about his book: http://goo.gl/jCVm3

  6. Yup, that’s the egg dish! When I first lived away from home when I was a university student, I cooked that dish several times per month for myself. So easy and healthy too! This is a China-based dish, not North American based dish at all.

    For those unfamiliar with this dish, this dish does not taste as good/freshly made when reheated….because of the inherent light custard taste which has abit of water to make it fluffy and egg mixture rise in steaming process.

  7. It’s important for non-Chinese cuisine folks to understand that there are also traditional Chinese dishes cooked at home, but rarely served in restaurants because the dish presentation may not be exciting, etc. I mean let’s face it steamed savoury egg custard dishes with sliced meat, soy etc.. many non-Asians get freaked out over soft custardy/gelatinous feel dishes. And one cannot cook this dish in advance in restaurants without altering its taste.

    But it’s one of my favourite, comfort food dishes.

      • Amen to jhup! Someday when I retire, I will open a restaurant call “Jhup and Rice”. BTW, anyone knows where is the best chop suey in town? Ben

      • Hi Ben, I like the Filipino-Chinese Chopsuey from Pinpin. I dont know if its the best in town but for me it is quite tasty. I guess its a more familiar taste for me.

      • Hi Crispy: Thanks. It will be interesting to learn more about chop suey. I would like to write about chop suey in Vancouver and am keen to know where to start the search. Pinpin would be one place. 🙂 Ben

  8. To my understanding, chop suey is more a North American invention by the Chinese immigrants who cooked to adapt to local ingredients and also to cater to non-Asian taste palate.

    What I don’t like about chop suey is when the dish uses cheaper veggies..ie. cabbage or tons of bean sprouts as filler. Otherwise it’s fine stuff. Alot healthier than other stuff.

  9. I am a white Canadian female….. I grew up eating at western Chinese restaurants because that’s all that was available to my family. I did not have the privilege of experiencing a lot of ethnic cuisines growing up, thus I happen to like Chop Suey since that’s what I grew up eating. Furthermore, as a vegetarian, it was one of the only menu items available that wasn’t just noodles and/or rice. I am fortunate enough now to have traveled the world and have many friends and family members from various ethnic backgrounds…… thus my tastes have also expanded as I’ve grown older and been exposed to more. But I still like a well made Chop Suey….. as do other people I know. I just don’t think it’s ever fair to judge other people’s tastes. I would hardly go to China and think that the average person there was clueless since they didn’t know authentic international foods beyond their region’s cuisine.

    • Hi Jayda – I agree. A really well-made chop suey (stirfry, whatever the semantics) is a treat. Often times I (as a “meatatarian”, as Ben would say, LOL) crave a nice dish of veggie chop suey with fresh veggie ingredients (not greasy nor overly seasoned) and a bowl of plain white rice.

  10. The word “Chop Suey” is American. It’s a rough translation.

    In cantonese it would probably be pronounced “shap sui”, and in mandarin, it would be “za sui”.

    The dish’s origin is disputed, but the consensus is that it came from chinese immigrant cooks working in North America in the 1880s-1890s. And those immigrant cooks most likely came from Guangdong province (the region of China that supplied the majority of chinese migrants during that time).

    But in the broader context, it’s stir fried mixed vegetables with chicken or some other protein, which is quite chinese. You can visit any chinese restaurant in the china (or the rest of the world) you will certainly see some variation of stir-fried chicken with vegetables, the only difference would be the type of vegetables.

    • Many thanks for the explanation. It is a dish I have associated in the past with really crappy Chinese restaurants – guess that reflects more on the restaurant than the dish. Didn’t mean to get anyone incensed. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area eating marvelous Cantonese food most of my life. I live in continental Europe now and the only decent Cantonese food I have found is in London or, to a lesser extent Paris. What they serve here in Switzerland is kind of like over cooked spaghetti with soy sauce on it. Yuk!!! Whenever I get to London I always get Ha Chow Mein, Ho Yow Gai Lan and big bowl of Joak with Yow Ja Guay (forgive phonetic spelling). Thanks again.

  11. Jayda, I had no intention of being rude at all. Is it actually a Chinese dish or some American invention?? Just a question and an observation.

  12. I always thought that chop suey was some bizarre American invention. Am I wrong? I’ve always hated the stuff. I’ve only seen it on menu’s in restaurants catering to people without a clue.

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