Monday, August 29, 2011

Chop Suey!

After yesterday's post, it seems appropriate that today is

National Chop Suey Day!

Now, most people, when they think of "Chop Suey", think of the horrors of "bulletproof Chinese" take-out, you know, those places in marginal neighborhoods surrounded in bulletproof glass and attached to the liquor store bearing the same name, at least that's how things work here in NYC, where everything from the far far reaches of the ice-box that no one would eat for one reason or another were combined in the largest wok imaginable to produce a dish that would be inhumane to even give concentration camp prisoners.

Personally, Chop Suey reminds me of a dish that my old friend John Gooby would conjure up that he called "John Gooby 'Surprise'". This dish was an "assortment" of whatever leftover Chinese food there was, and, for that matter, anything else that was on the way out, combined in a skillet with some soy sauce and one lone egg. The "surprise" was that it was actually good.

Chop Suey originated in Taishan, a district of Guangdong Province, in China. Chop Suey or Zá Suì literally means "assorted pieces" which describes the dish perfectly. Leftover meats, chicken, beef, pork, or shrimp, were combined with vegetables and eggs along with a starch based sauce to form the basis of the dish. This proved to be a very frugal and tasty way to use up odds and ends in the kitchen. But, as with all good things, Zá Suì became "Americanized" and turned into the slop and the joke that it is.

So, let's have some Zá Suì in a very tasty way, try this :

Filipino Chop Suey

Photo Indobase

  • 1/2 lbs. (225 g.) Pork, cut into strips
  • 4 cloves fresh Garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 medium-sized Onion, chopped into small dice
  • 2 medium-sized Potatoes, chopped into small dice
  • 1 medium-sized Carrot, chopped diagonally
  • 1 head Broccoli, broken into florets and the stem chopped diagonally
  • 1 cup Shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 tbsp Cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup (118 ml.) Water
  • 2 cups Fish Balls, available in most Asian markets
  • Peanut Oil or Canola Oil
  • 2 cups (473 ml.) Chicken Broth
  • 1/4 lbs. (112 g.) Snow Peas
  • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 cups (473 ml.) Water
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh ground Black Pepper

Heat some Oil on medium-high, about two (2) good glugs, in a large skillet or wok until just smoking. Add the Onions and Garlic, sauté for one (1) minute.

Add the Pork, Shrimp, and Fish Balls and sauté until the the meat is tender, about two (2) minutes.

Add the Chicken Broth, Carrots, and Potatoes. Stir well and sauté for one (1) minute.

Add Water, Soy Sauce, and dissolved Cornstarch to the skillet and mix well.  Bring to a boil and let simmer for fifteen (15) minutes.

Add Broccoli and Snow Peas. Stir and sauté for two (2) minutes.

Season with Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste.

Serve over plain White Rice

Recipe adapted from Indobase

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