Chop suey, also known as chop sui, is a simple, flavorful, and colorful dish with a light gravy-like sauce. The dish is a smart and wonderful way to use any leftover fresh vegetables from previous recipes to make a whole new dinner. Steam a pot of rice while you stir fry and dinner is served in 20 minutes flat.
Even though this recipe has a long list of ingredients, don’t be intimidated. These are some suggested ingredients for inspiration—they add a pop of color and build layers of flavor, but you can customize this recipe to fit your taste and local availability.
Chop suey is a quick and easy dish. The stir-fry is usually served with rice and I love drizzling a bit more gravy over top and watching the pearly-white jasmine rice soak up all the flavors.
What Is Chop Suey?
Chop suey is a beloved Chinese American dish that originated in the late 1800s when Chinese immigrants came to the United States to work on the transcontinental railroad. With the introduction of Chinese culinary techniques and flavors to the United States, Chinese food gained popularity, and chop suey became a favorite American dish. As Chinese immigrants have opened Chinese American restaurants across the United States, chop suey has evolved. This recipe is one of many variations.
The name "chop suey" means "miscellaneous pieces," referencing the variety of ingredients used. The dish is designed to use any available ingredients to prevent waste. While there are many variations of chop suey, the dish typically consists of one type of protein (usually either chicken or pork) with an assortment of stir-fried vegetables and a gravy-like sauce.
Easy Variations on Chop Suey
Chop suey is a versatile dish that can be made with a variety of vegetables and proteins. Substitute ingredients based on what you have available in your fridge or at local markets. Some good options for vegetables include broccoli florets, snow or snap peas, string beans, carrots, bell pepper, baby corn, and celery. For protein, try using strips of pork instead of chicken thighs.
For denser vegetables, cut them into smaller or thinner pieces, or cook them earlier in the process to ensure everything is cooked properly. For example, hardy vegetables such as carrots would take more time to cook than snow peas, but if the carrots are cut into thin coins or matchsticks, the two veggies will cook in a similar amount of time.
When preparing protein, I would recommend cutting it into small pieces or strips—between 1 and 1 1/2 inches—to allow for proper cooking. The increase in surface area will also allow the seasonings and sauces to better infuse their flavors.
Adjusting the Sauce
For this recipe, the sauce consistency is just enough to coat all the vegetables without being too saucy. The cornstarch slurry (a small amount of cornstarch mixed with a small amount of water) thickens the gravy.
Depending on your personal preference, adjust the amount of chicken broth and cornstarch slurry. For a saucier dish, add another 1/4 cup of chicken broth to the sauce and an additional teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon of water to the slurry.
Chinese American Favorites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, cut into 1/4-inch coins
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
8 to 10 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 ounces snow peas, trimmed
2 green onions, sliced into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 ounces mung bean sprouts
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons water, to dissolve cornstarch
Salt, to taste
3 cups steamed rice, for serving
Cook the chicken:
Add the oil to a wok or a large, deep non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Heat the oil just until it starts to smoke, about 1 minute.
Add the chicken thighs. Stir fry until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the onion, carrots, and seasonings:
Add the onion, carrots, chicken broth, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil. Stir fry over high heat for 5 minutes. The sauce should be bubbling.
Add the mushrooms, pepper, and celery:
Add mushrooms, bell pepper, and celery. Stir fry until the celery has softened to crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
Add the peas, green onions, and bean sprouts:
Add the peas, green onions, and bean sprouts. Stir fry until well-mixed and heated through, about 2 minutes.
Thicken the sauce:
Add the cornstarch and water to a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pan and stir fry until the sauce has thickened to your liking, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and add salt, if needed. Serve with rice.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 3 to 4|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 19g||24%|
|Saturated Fat 4g||18%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||16%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 69mg||346%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|