"Once the vegetables are prepped, this delicious low-fat Chicken Chop Suey goes together quickly"
The making of Chicken Chop Suey
I had a half a head of Napa cabbage in the crisper, leftover from making my Better than Applebee's Oriental Chicken Salad, and some bok choy in the garden, about ready to bolt, so I thought I would make a quick, healthy, low-fat, Chicken Chop Suey.
Chop Suey vs Chow Mein
Chop Suey is a beautiful combination of vegetables in a mild sauce that is generally served with steamed rice. Chow Mein, on the other hand, is a stir-fry of vegetables with noodles already in the dish. Otherwise, they are pretty interchangeable. Of the two, chow mein is considered to be more authentic China Chinese. Chop suey was more likely invented in the United States by Chinese immigrants who wanted to make Chinese-style dishes but were limited in the types of vegetables available to them. Chop Suey is the English translation of the Chinese words "tsap seui" which means mixed pieces.
Both chop suey and chow mein can be made vegetarian, or with chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp. When making this recipe, feel free to substitute any of those, including chicken breast, for chicken thighs.
Once the veggies are prepped, this dish goes together quickly. Marinating the meat for about 15 minutes adds an additional level of flavor, but is not entirely necessary. The finishing sauce for this Chicken Chop Suey is a quick mix of chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, and cornstarch. Nothing difficult about that.
The only thing that really needs attention is how you add your vegetables. You need to add them in layers, so the cabbage does not become a soggy mess while you are waiting for your onions, celery, and peppers to become tender. You can also remove veggies at any time during the cooking process to keep them "crisp-tender". In the end, add everything back to the pan along with the sauce to coat and heat them up.
Is it necessary to Wok it?
While not necessary, a wok is the best way to prepare chop suey because of its unique shape which allows you to cook food quickly on the bottom of the pan, and then move pieces up the sides where it's cooler. Once ready to finish, just push everything back to the bottom to heat and finish. If you don't have a wok, you can use a wide heavy skillet. If you do, you may want to remove the food as it cooks to avoid both overcrowding the pan or overcooking the food.
So chop chop and let's make some Chicken Chop Suey!
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Chicken Chop Suey
- For the Chicken
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ cup dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger root
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- "The Star of the Show" - Veggies
- 1 onion cut in half and thinly sliced ( I like to cut mine vertically and then slice it rather than horizontally, not for any other reason then I think it looks better in this dish done that way
- 2 ribs celery cut into a diagonal ¼ inch thick
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and cut into ¼ inch thick slices then halved crosswise
- ½ pound bok choy sliced into ½ inch pieces, tops and stems separated
- ½ head Napa cabbage sliced into ½ inch widths
- ¼ pound mung bean sprouts
- 1 5-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 1 5-ounce can sliced bamboo shoots, drained
- Sliced mushrooms optional
- For the Sauce
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- Also Needed
- 1 tablespoon oil I use grapeseed, or rice bran oil or as needed
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- In a bowl mix the marinade ingredients together, add the chicken (or whatever you plan to use as your protein); let sit for 15 minutes.
- While the chicken is marinating, prepare your vegetables. Keep all components separate. Mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside.
- Heat a wok or large heavy-bottomed skillet over a medium-high heat; when hot add the oil. Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the wok, stir-fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink. Add the onions, celery and bell pepper; stir-fry for 3 minutes or until just beginning to soften, then add bok choy bottoms (if using mushrooms, add them now). Stir-fry 1 - 2 minutes, add the Napa cabbage along with the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots, stir fry for 2 minutes then add the mung beans. Toss to mix then make a well in the center; add the sauce and stir it into the vegetables. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper; serve immediately along with some steamed rice.