Chop suey is one of the most popular and widely recognised examples of Chinese cuisine. You’ll find it on the menu of almost every Chinese restaurant or take-away in New Zealand. But did you know that it’s not really a “Chinese” dish at all?

Chop Suey History

Chop suey is thought to have originated not in China, but in California during the 1800s. At this time there was a great influx of Chinese immigrants to cities like San Francisco, driven in large part by a gold rush that began towards the end of the 1840s.

Food historians speculate that Chinese cooks in the United States, seeking to sell Chinese food to Westerners, but lacking many of the ingredients necessary for traditional Chinese dishes, concocted chop suey out of necessity rather than culinary creativity. The fact that the name chop suey means “mixed pieces” tends to support this theory.

A Versatile Dish

In keeping with its name, chop suey recipes vary widely. Basically, the dish of chop suey is a collection of stir fried vegetables with a little meat, served on plain rice. Because many different combinations of vegetables can be used, chop suey is a great dish to experiment with. In addition, it works just as well with chicken, beef or pork.

Listed below you’ll find two recipes for chop suey: one using chicken and one using pork. But remember those immigrant Chinese cooks; if you don’t have some of the listed ingredients, don’t be afraid to experiment and substitute your own combination of vegetables.

Chicken Chop Suey Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 175 g skinless chicken breast thinly sliced
  • ½ cup celery chopped
  • 2 – 3 spring onions shredded lengthways
  • ½ cup green beans (French beans)
  • 1 cup Chinese cabbage shredded (you can substitute normal white or green cabbage)
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed to a loose paste with water
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons stock
  • 1 dessertspoon rice wine
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Rice bran oil (or any other good quality vegetable cooking oil)
  • Sesame oil
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Place a good splash of cooking oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add a few drops of sesame oil and heat (sesame oil is an ingredient that will really help give your dish an authentic Chinese flavour).
  2. Add your chicken and fry till cooked.
  3. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add the garlic, ginger and pepper to the oil in the pan and fry for 30 seconds, stirring to prevent burning.
  5. Add all the vegetables and stir fry for about three minutes. The vegetables should still have some crispness to them.
  6. Add the sugar and salt and blend well.
  7. Add the chicken, rice wine, soy sauce and stock and stir fry for another minute or so.
  8. Add the cornstarch paste and cook until the sauce thickens and clears.

Serve your chop suey on a bed of boiled or steamed rice.

Pork Chop Suey Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 500 g thinly sliced pork
  • 1 bunch bok choi chopped
  • ½ cup mushrooms quartered
  • 1 green capsicum sliced
  • ½ cup celery chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 250 g snow peas
  • Rice bran oil
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce

Pork Marinade:

  • 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
  • splash of oil

Method:

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients together and marinate the pork for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat oil in a wok (with a few drops of sesame oil added) and stir fry the pork.
  3. When the pork is cooked remove it from the pan and set aside.
  4. Add all the vegetables to the pan and stir fry.
  5. While the vegetables are cooking whisk together the chicken stock, oyster sauce and cornstarch in a bowl.
  6. When the vegetables are cooked add the pork and combine.
  7. Gradually pour your stock/oyster sauce/cornstarch mixture into the wok, stirring regularly, and cook until the sauce thickens.

Serve on a bed of rice.

A Chinese Feast

So, now you know how to make chop suey why not treat the family to a Chinese feast? Buy some prawn crackers, break out the fortune cookies and, for the adults, maybe a glass or two of that Chinese rice wine?

To learn more about making chop suey check out this video.

Chop Suey Recipe, 3.6 out of 5 based on 9 ratings

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