Chop Suey is a stir-fried vegetable dish that is cooked with meats such as chicken and pork. Shrimp and seafood can also be added. This chop suey recipe is special because it has almost every ingredient present. Chicken, pork, shrimp, and boiled quail eggs were all included in the recipe, along with fresh veggies.
Essentially, all recipes seem to be but a thoughtful intermingling of various ingredients. And this hopefully creates a dish dancing with flavors on your tongue. But shockingly enough, some of the most famous dishes arose from mere accidents or efforts to whip out a meal that won’t taste half bad. And if these efforts work out, we end up with something along the lines of the greatly endeared Chop Suey.
Where did Chop Suey come from?
There are a great many stories swirling around about the origins of this famed dish. But legend has it that it was not even born in China like Hopia, which shockingly has its origins in Japan. It was said that Chop Suey was actually initially seen in America. But what actually happened is that after a great number of Chinese immigrants went to America, they brought with them the famed dish. While its exact origin is still under debate, some have claimed that it came from Taishan, Guangdong. This is because most of the earlier Chinese immigrants had come from this place.
But because it has become such a well-known staple of Chinese-American cuisine, the most popular story actually begins in San Francisco. In 1849, during the era of the Gold Rush, it is said that when a group of intoxicated miners asked for food later in the night in Macao and Woosung restaurant. Because of how late it was, the owner decided to make the most of scraps from previous orders. They mixed it together for a more preferable taste, and ended up with none other than the Chop Suey. And to no one’s surprise, the miners fell in love with.
How was Chop Suey received by the public as a dish later on?
Ever since, the affordable but flavorful dish became a popular signature dish for most Chinese restaurants in America. And when the 1920s arrived, most of these Chinese restaurants did their best to adjust Chop Suey to local tastes. And it became even more popular by the 1950s. Mothers became known to cook this dish for their families.
Funnily enough, most say that the origin story involving one tired owner and a group of famished laborers to be purely legend. Chop Suey actually comes from the Cantonese phrase tsap seui. This means “miscellaneous leftovers”. And while the story still applies with regards to the etymology of the food, most people say that what likely happened is that the early Chinese immigrants, prior to leaving China, came up with this dish by putting together their own leftovers.
Either way, it has come a long way since then. The dish has traveled all around the world, and landed in the Philippines with a massive bang. It now makes for a greatly popular home-cooked meal to share with the family. And they usually serve this during gatherings wherein a tasty Chinese stew would be appreciated.
What is Chop Suey exactly?
While it has its roots in Chinese-American cuisine, Filipinos have so lovingly accepted Chop Suey into their cooking repertoire that it has since evolved into its own well-known Filipino recipe. It is a vegetable dish that you mix with a meat or two or three of choice. This could range from chicken to pork to seafood like shrimp! But for this recipe that I’ve formulated, I decided to go with the best of these worlds. I incorporated these 3 sources of protein, alongside some quail eggs.
However, this also differs from the American Chop Suey that usually utilizes noodles and ground meat. In America, they enjoy this meal solely with a fork and no spoon because of the noodles. But because of Filipinos’ love for white rice as a side dish, they tailored Chop Suey to the country’s taste mainly as a viand. In the Philippines, it has mainly involved the sauce, the meat and the vegetables, instead of noodles or pasta. But the best part is, because of all of the vegetables in the mix and other ingredients with their own share of nutritional value, it could be good for you!
What are the health benefits of Chop Suey?
Because Chop Suey did not actually come from the Philippines, the dish’s nutritional content may differ. This could differ from one rendition to another. With this, the American Chop Suey may not hold the same health benefits as the Filipino one does. But for the Filipino version, it could be of great relief to hear that this dish is packed with vitamins!
For one, it has great iron content, which nutritionists recommend for those undergoing pregnancy. This is because it helps the blood in bringing oxygen from the lungs to the organs in the body. It also contains complex carbohydrates, which could be helpful for those who need to keep a low-fat diet. Chop Suey is also rich in magnesium, which helps regulate the heartbeat and muscles in functioning. This makes it a good meal for those who might have a heart condition. This is because it has lower sodium levels.
There is also Vitamin C in the dish, which can aid the body from getting eye disease, prenatal health issues, immune system deficiencies and more. And of course, it is also rich in protein, which is beneficial in tissue repair and a better immune system.
Cooking Chop Suey
This recipe for chop suey is a quick and easy. The meat slices are properly cooked. The vegetables are fresh and crisp. I also prepped the shrimp by pan-frying before adding to the rest of the bunch.
Talking about pan-frying shrimp, this is the first step in this recipe. Prepare the shrimp by pan-frying for 1 minute per side. There is no need to rub salt or any seasoning on it. Simply pour and spread around 3 tablespoons of oil on a wok and then start to pan-fry once the oil is hot. I recommend using oils that have a high smoke point. Peanut oil is a good example.
It has been a common in Filipino cooking to start cooking most dishes by sautéing garlic and onion. We are doing the same thing for this recipe. Using the remaining oil, sauté garlic and onion. Feel free to add more oil if needed. Do this while stirring until the onion softens. This provides nice flavors and aroma to our chop suey.
Sequence of adding ingredients
The meats need to cook at this point. I am using both pork and chicken. It is important to sauté the meat until it gets light to medium brown. Seasonings such as soy sauce and oyster sauce are also added once the meat browns. This gives the meat time to absorb the flavors.
It is important to cook the meat until tender before adding the vegetables. This can be done either by slicing the meat as thin as possible, or by boiling quickly in water. Let me elaborate further. Thinly sliced meat cooks in a few seconds and can tenderize quickly in a couple of minutes. Adding water to the wok and boiling the meat until the water evaporates ensures that the meat is tender, even if it was not sliced as thinly as expected.
Vegetables are added to the dish and stir-frying begins. Add the veggies that needs to cook longer. Carrots and cauliflower are good candidates. Put-in the rest of the veggies and continue to stir-fry until initially cooked. Make sure to keep the veggies crisp. Do not overcook.
The pan-fried shrimp and boiled fresh quail eggs can now be added. No need to cook further since these are already prepped.
I like my chop suey best with quail eggs. Boiled fresh quail eggs are highly recommended. There are canned quail eggs are available in the market. I prefer not to use it due to its taste. It is convenient, but it tastes funny. It might be from the brine and preservatives.
Season with ground black pepper and see if salt is needed. I also pour a mixture composed of cornstarch and water to thicken my chop suey. This is optional.
Chop Suey with Chicken and Pork
Our chop suey recipe makes use of several ingredients, including chicken and pork. The variety of ingredients make it special. In terms of the meat, you can either use one or the other, or do it altogether just what I did in this recipe.
I like my dish to be flavorful. Chicken and pork have different flavor profiles, but it complements each other when cooked together. This is one reason why you should try to use both chicken and pork when cooking chop suey.
The key here is to make sure that both meats are sliced thinly so that it cooks and tenderizes quickly.
How Do You Cook Chop Suey without Meat?
Chop Suey can be a vegetarian dish. It can also be cooked with just veggies and seafood. In fact, is faster to cook without the meat. You can still refer to the recipe below, but exclude the chicken and pork.
Tofu can also be added for protein. I suggest using fried extra firm tofu. Cut the tofu into small cubes after frying. It is literally like a sponge when it comes to absorbing flavors.
Chop Suey with Rice or Noodles?
What do you eat chop suey with? I like mine with warm white rice. Sometimes I have it with Chinese fried rice, such as yang chow.
There are times when I eat it with rice noodles or bihon. I make pancit bihon out of the leftovers. Another way of enjoying this dish is to top it with crispy fried noodles. Makes sure to add sauce to your chop suey if you plan to do it this way. Using the recipe below, add ½ cup chicken broth after stir-frying the veggies for it to be saucier.
Chop Suey Versions
Pork Chop Suey is version that makes use of pork as the main protein. It does not have seafood, egg, or chicken on it. This can be considered as a common version that can be prepared anytime. The best cut of pork to use in this version is the tenderloin.
Squid ball Chop Suey is composed of the same vegetable ingredients with squid balls and chicken liver. Squid balls are processed squid flavor balls that are usually deep fried. This is a type of street food in the Philippines. Chicken livers are used in this version to provide flavor.
Scallop Chop Suey is a seafood version that use bay scallops. This version has boiled quail eggs too. Chicken broth is added in this version to give the dish additional flavor. It tastes good and it is light on the tummy.
Special Chop Suey is the whole shebang. It is like a step-up of this version. I cook it on special occasions. Friends and family love it.
Chop suey with Quail Eggs is similar to this version with an emphasis on the shrimp flavor. I used a piece of shrimp cube on it. Boy! It really made a good difference. I also made it saucier so that I can have enough sauce to top over rice.
Chop Suey Stir-fry is my goto recipe if I want to make a quick and tasty version of this dish. I like to have this version with fried rice. I think that newbies or people who has not cooked chop suey yet should first try this version because it is the easiest.
- There are many ways to cook chop suey. Make sure to not overcook the veggies regardless of the version that you are cooking.
- Try to avoid using canned quail eggs if possible. Boiled fresh quail eggs tastes good and more natural.
- Slice the meats as thin as possible for it to cook and tenderize quickly.
- Adding baby corn or young corn to makes your dish look and taste better.
- Use both red and green bell peppers to make your dish vibrant and enticing.
So give in to your cravings and have some Chop Suey for your next meal! Let me know what you think!
- 7 pieces shrimp cleaned and deveined
- 3 ounces pork sliced
- 3 ounces boneless chicken breast sliced
- 1 ½ cup cauliflower florets
- 1 piece carrot sliced crosswise into thin pieces
- 15 pieces snow peas
- 8 pieces baby corn
- 1 piece red bell pepper sliced into squares
- 1 piece green bell pepper sliced into squares
- 1 ½ cups cabbage chopped
- 12 pieces quail eggs boiled
- 1 piece yellow onion sliced
- 4 cloves garlic crushed
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons oyster sauce
- ¾ cup water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch diluted in ½ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- Heat oil in a wok or pan.
- Pan fry the shrimp for 1 minute per side. Remove from the wok. Set aside.
- Saute onion. Add garlic and continue to saute until the onion becomes soft.
- Add pork and chicken. Stir fry until light brown.
- Add soy sauce and oyster sauce. Stir.
- Pour water. Let boil. Cover and cook in medium heat for 15 minutes.
- Add cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, and young corn. Stir.
- Add cabbage. Toss. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
- Put the pan-fried shrimp into the pot and add ground black pepper.
- Add the boiled quail eggs and cornstarch diluted in water. Toss.
- Transfer to a serving plate. Serve.
- Share and enjoy!