Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Sommertime Chop Suey

While I am definitely NOT an expert at Asian Cuisine, Chop Suey is definitely one of those dishes that just about anybody can make. I especially love it cuz you can pretty much use veggies you have on hand in the fridge. There are so many ways you can make this dish. Adding various ingredients really changes the outcome. If you don't have something on hand, simply exclude it- that's part of the adventure!

Sommer's Secrets: I found that ginger, oyster sauce and SESAME OIL are the secrets to making this dish taste more "authentic". I love going to Chinatown to get my ingredients although they are pretty much everywhere here in Hawaii. If you look in your produce section you can usually fine "fresh" ginger and garlic in a tube- so easy to use. If you ever get a chance try some lemon grass or lime leaves- which also come in a tube- they really "brighten" the dish.

Ginger: I like using fresh Ginger Root but if you don't use it very often a good substitute would be the ground powdered ginger you have in your cabinet. When I first started using this I didn't quite know what to do with it. My favorite way to use it is to peel and then use a fine grater or micro plane to really expose the fresh flavor. It's my secret ingredient to add to my beef stew. Or you can slice it up with skin and all for a more subtle flavor. Just remember to either take out the ginger bits or you might get a nice surprise if you're not used to eating raw ginger.

Oyster Sauce: This is my new favorite ingredient to give food that Asian flare. You Gotta try Scotty's Oyster Sauce grilled or baked chicken - similar to shoyu chicken it's VERY yummy. hmmmm.....I'll have to post that sometime.....Oyster sauce is  similar to a thick soy sauce....kinda like teriyaki sauce, not quite as sweet, is salty and has a subtle "fish" flavor-definitely not fishy and is actually really good.....if you want REAL "fishy" we'll talk about fish sauce some other time......

Sesame Oil: I LOVE Sesame Oil! I can't believe how it is so yummy.I prefer Black Sesame oil which can be a little stronger in flavor but pretty much any sesame oil will do.A little goes a LONG way! Add a few drops  for a very Asian flavor. I usually don't cook in sesame oil rather I use it as a finishing touch to add flavor so I usually add it towards the end after most of the cooking is done because of it's lower temperature smoke point. It really flavors my fried rice nicely and I can't live without it anymore.

Here's my take on Chop Suey:


2 TBS veggie oil
1/2 pound of meat
1 tsp minced garlic
(or garlic powder)
1 tsp finely minced ginger (or ground ginger powder)
2 cups favorite chopped or sliced veggies or use the frozen stir fry blend (thaw & drain first)cut in to bite sized pieces (any kind you like, chicken, pork, beef etc)
1 small onion chopped ( you could use half of a med sized onion- I buy smaller onions so I can use the whole thing instead of part of it and they seem to be sweeter)
1- 2 cups bean sprouts (I use the chop suey mix with carrots and cabbage mixed in)
1/4 cup sliced green onion (about 3-4 green onion stalks)

Sommer's note: I like fresh veggies and usually use  about 1/2 cup sugar snap peas, 1/2 cup broccoli 1 cup cabbage 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrots and celery and 1/4 cup sliced green bell pepper or what ever I have on hand)

1 TBS cornstarch
2 TBS water
1/4 cup oyster sauce*
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
(Because it can be too salty I usually omit the soy sauce)
1/4 tsp sesame oil*if no oyster sauce on hand: increase soy sauce to 2 TBS , and sugar to 2 tsp

1. Whisk together all ingredients for sauce in a small bowl. Set aside
2. Heat 1 TBS veggie oil in skillet or wok. ( I have an electric range so a wok doesn't really work)

3. Add chopped onion, minced ginger, (lemongrass if using), garlic and meat. Stir fry (cook on high heat stirring constantly) until meat is cooked through and onion is semi soft and translucent.

4. Transfer onion and meat to plate and set aside.

Sommer's note: If you add the veggies to the meat and onion, by the time the veggies are cooked your meat and onion will be over cooked resulting in dry, sometimes rubbery meat and burnt onion.

5. In same skillet, heat another 1 TBS veggie oil and stir fry  all veggies except green onion and bean sprouts.

6. When veggies are tender but still crisp add meat mixture, and bean sprouts.

7. Pour in sauce mixture, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

8. Add green onion at very end as it wilts practically as soon as it meets the heat.

9. Serve over prepared rice- steamed rice preferred although you could use that minute rice stuff...(can't believe I used to eat that...no judgments from me though!)

Sommer's Secret: Don't overcook the veggies. They should be tender but crisp and "snap" when you bite into them. lessen cooking time if using previously frozen veggies be sure to drain the thawed veggies well or you end up steaming everything and it's not as crisp.

To make it more Chow Mien- add noodles, either crunchy or soft. I like to top with Fried won ton strips or you could use, chow mien noodles.  Add blanched slivered almonds or cashews  for extra crunch. so yum! ....not too bad for a girl from the rez!


Note: in case you're wondering; the meat is Korean spareribs called Kalbi- I like mine cooked to death- guess it's just the Navajo in me! I'll have to have Scotty show how to do those too- another yummy favorite.


  1. Looks WAY tasty-o! This is absolutely gaylon & I's favorite! We're mad we can't find a Chinese place here to make it for us:( but woohoo, now we can make our own! I definitely need me some oyster sauce & sesame oil! I can almost taste this it looks so yummy!! Definitely not bad for a Rez girl! Haha. Btw, did you know I'm allergic to walnuts? I'm mad I got that trait from dad and you didn't cuz candied walnuts sound way yummy! Guess I could try it w/ pecans though;0). So excited for you to come. Especially so you can teach me some new recipes!!! So excited!!!! Kids are watching Horton hears a who right now. It always reminds me of you since you got it for them. Haha.

  2. I wish there was a way to make this without the oyster sauce - I cringe when I realize the amount of sodium and msg it has...but it sure adds to the taste.