There seems to be a debate as to the historical and anthropological roots of the stir fried mixed vegetable dish that the world calls chop suey. Some say it is a Chinese American invention; others say that chop suey is an authentic Chinese dish that was brought to America by Chinese immigrants.
Even the exact definition of the dish varies. It is a mixed vegetable stir fry, no doubt, but what vegetables go into it? In practice, chop suey can be made with anything and everything. It can contain meat, it can be meatless, it can have eggs, it can be served with rice or on top of egg noodles.
I have a lot of chop suey recipes. And they keep growing because every time I cook chop suey, it’s a different version depending on what bits and pieces I can find in the fridge and the pantry. This is one of the simplest with carrot, bell peppers, cabbage, straw mushrooms and pork. An older version, published in July 1, 2003, with more vegetable variety, is on page two.
Chop suey is a stir fried dish so it’s a good idea to first read about stir frying basics.
Recipe: Chop suey
- 200 g. of pork, sliced thinly (a quarter inch or thinner)
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1/2 tsp. of pepper
- 1 tbsp. of oyster sauce
- 4 tbsps. of tapioca starch (click the link instead of asking for substitutes in the comment box)
- 1 c. of vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp. of minced garlic
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. of grated ginger
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced
- half a head of white cabbage, cut into strips about half an inch wide
- 1 large bell pepper (red or green, doesn’t matter, really), cored, seeded and diced
- 12 straw mushrooms (I used canned), halved
- 1/3 c. of mushroom liquid from the can (or use broth)
- 1 tbsp. of tapioca starch
- 2 tbsps. of oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp. of sugar
- a drizzle of sesame seed oil
- Place the pork in a bowl. Sprinkle with the teaspoonful of salt, the half teaspoonful of pepper and the 4 tbsps. of tapioca starch. Mix well.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan. Drop in the pork slices, one after the other, and cook until lightly browned and crisp. If the meat is sliced thinly enough, it should be cooked through in two to three minutes. Scoop out and set aside.
- Pour off the cooking oil leaving only about two tablespoonfuls. Reheat.
- Stir fry the carrot, belle pepper and cabbage for about 30 seconds. Add the ginger, garlic and onion slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir fry for another 30 seconds then add the mushrooms.
- Mix together the mushroom liquid (or broth), 1 tbsp. of tapioca starch, 2 tbsps. of oyster sauce and sugar. Pour into the vegetables, stirring and tossing to keep everything in the pan moving. The sauce will turn clean and thicken within seconds.
- Return the cooked pork to the pan, stir fry for another 10 seconds to heat through then turn off the heat. Drizzle a little sesame seed oil over everything, stir a few times, transfer to a platter and serve at once.
Preparation time: 10 minute(s)
Cooking time: 10 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 2