Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chop Suey

Contrary to popular belief, Chop Suey is a Chinese dish that did not originate in China. It is in fact American. Chop Suey became popular in the 1950's after the US armed forces returned from the Orient following the Korean War with a host of new culinary sensations that resulted in an explosion of Chinese restaurants here in the USA. No one knows exactly who first came up with Chop Suey, but it was quickly established that this dish wasn't a gift from the Chinese. (In fact, in the Chinese language "chop suey" literally translates as garbage.) But this one quickly became a huge hit with Americans who didn't know it was an invention of our own. Its popularity waned in the 70's after more authentic Chinese restaurants became the norm around the country. There are many recipes for Chop Suey but this one is my favorite. I originally got it from a Julia Child cookbook over twenty-five years ago and I still make it today.

1/4 cup shortening
1 pound stir fry cut beef
1 cup diced onions
1 1/2 cups chopped, raw cabbage
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 cups hot water
1/2 can green peas with carrots
2/3 cup cold water
2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
1 12 ounce package La Choy chow mein noodles
Cut the stir fry beef into 1-2 inch chunks. Melt the shortening in a frying pan and then add the beef and onions, and fry until the beef is done. Drain the excess shortening from the meat and onions.
Add in the cabbage, salt and pepper, hot water, and peas with carrots. Bring to a boil. Then turn down heat, cover and simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
In a separate bowl, combine the cold water, corn starch, soy sauce, and sugar. Mix well and pour over the meat and vegetables in your frying pan. Cook over medium heat for five minutes or until thickened to taste, stirring constantly.
Take one 12 ounce package of La Choy chow mein noodles and prepare as directed. Stir into the meat and vegetables.
Serve while hot. This one heats over quite well, too!

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