An Westernized Chinese dish. In the 1940's (in Australia where I was it was a little bit later, more 1960's, thanks sensei for the date) when Chinese cooking first entered mainstream America, chop suey was introduced as an easy-to-make dish that uses Western ingredients. However, this is not representative of Chinese cuisine, it was more an attempt by the Chinese cooks to create a dish that would not upset the Western stomachs, and yet uses Chinese seasonings and cooking style (stir fry) and look as if it was really Chinese food. Here is how you make it:


Pre-cooking: Cooking:
  • Set tall frying pan in mid-high heat
  • Add the olive oil to frying pan
  • Fry the chopped onion, celery and meat for 1 minute, continuously stirring
  • Add the soya beans, continuously stirring for 3 minutes so that all vegetables are fried
  • Stir the soya/water/corn starch mix and add to the frying pan
  • Once boiling, continue stirring for a few minutes until all vegetables appear darker and the meat is fully cooked

It's a quick dish, and was Chinese enough to serve in the past. Now, with more specialized Chinese restaurants appearing all over the country (Northern, Sichuan, Cantonese, etc.), chop suey is a lot more rare than it used to be.

The name "chop suey" first originated in the 19th century as an anglicizing of the the Cantonese tsaâp suì which meant ‘mixed bits’.

Because chop suey does not appear on many "traditional" Chinese menus, the dish is popularly considered to be an Americanization. Some even claim that it was first a Japanese chef who made chop suey. It is likely that neither story is true.

It is more likely that chop suey first originated in the region of southern China known as Toisan as an easy way to prepare leftovers, much like the burrito in Mexico. Chinese people had no "proper" name for what was essentially leftovers. For much the same reason it would not be featured on any menus in a restaurant. When the Chinese began immigrating to North America to work on the railroad, chop suey was one of the things that was made and the dish was given a name. 

Served over rice, chop suey is essentially chow mein minus the noodles.

If you desire to consume chop suey, you can either follow DMan's recipe or find it as a canned good in the "ethnic aisle" of your local supermarket. 



Chop su"ey or soo"y (?). [Chin. (Cantonese) shap sui odds and ends, fr. shap for sap to enter the mouth + sui small bits pounded fine.]

A melange served in Chinese restaurants to be eaten with rice, noodles, etc. It consists typically of bean sprouts, onions, mushrooms, etc., and sliced meats, fried and flavored with sesame oil.

[U. S.]


© Webster 1913.

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