What I need to do is simplify my life and my menu. I am sure busy wives and moms like me feel the same. This brought to mind Chop Suey, a one-skillet, all-in-one stir fry meal, which mom often cooked. Mom cooked this dish all the time with vegetables harvested from our backyard which my dad planted.
Chop Suey (say ‘chop sooy’) sounds Chinese but is actually an Americanized Asian dish. It is also a very well-liked Filipino dish. Today, internet sources allude to ‘chop suey’ as Mandarin or Cantonese words which mean ‘small bits’ of ‘this and that’. And truly it is a delightful cornucopia of many different ingredients sliced small. It may have vague American origins but it sure found its way to the Philippines and back again here on my dinner table in New Jersey. The small portions of meat cooked in a slew of vegetables in season is very appealing to the home cook like me who needs to get dinner done in a hurry.
I sliced the beef strips and prepared the crisp cabbage, fragrant bell peppers, crunchy green beans, bright orange carrot slices and the lovely asparagus. A quick stir fry in my large skillet, a few turns and in no time, dinner was ready to be poured on rice.
Chopsuey- Vegetable Stir-Fry with Beef
- large skillet or wok
- 1 pound beef sirloin sliced in 2-inch length strips
- 4 Tablespoons toyo (soy sauce) divided, use 2 Tablespoons to marinate beef, rest for stir fry
- 2 Tablespoons cornstarch to coat beef
- 4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic peeled, minced
- 1 whole onion chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 large carrot peeled, sliced, about 1 cup
- 1 large red or green bell pepper seeded, sliced in 2-inch strips
- 1 1/2 cups organic beef or chicken broth or vegetable
- 3 cups shredded cabbage sliced in thin 2-inch strips
- 2 cups sliced green beans edges trimmed, cut in 2-inch strips
- 1 cup sliced fresh asparagus edges trimmed, cut in 2-inch strips
- 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper powder
- for serving : boiled rice
- In a medium sized bowl, marinate the sliced beef with soy sauce. Cover and refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes. When ready to cook, coat the beef slices in cornstarch and set aside.
- Over medium high heat, in a large skillet (about 12-inches ), add the vegetable oil. Heat the oil for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir fry the garlic, onions and celery. Cook for about 2 minutes till onions get transparent.
- Add the beef strips, sliced carrots, bell peppers and mix around to flavor the skillet. Sear the beef strips for 2 to 3 minutes till the meat turns from pink to brown. Pour a cup of broth to the skillet and blend into the beef and rest of the ingredients.
- Pour 1/2 cup broth into the bowl where the beef strips were coated with cornstarch. There will still be a bit of leftover cornstarch sticking to the sides of the bowl. Tilt the bowl around so the liquid catches the leftover cornstarch and blend this slurry with a spoon. Pour this liquid into the skillet where the beef is cooking. Add remaining soy sauce. Blend well.
- Add the cabbage strips, green beans and asparagus. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes more. Blend all the ingredients together.
- Season with sesame oil, salt and black pepper. Serve with boiled jasmine white rice.
- Cook’s comments: Chop suey is often cooked with sliced chicken breast, pork or chicken gizzards, all of which I did not have when I cooked this recipe. I had a surplus of beef so I decided to cook this dish with it. Feel free to use chicken or pork if preferred, same amount indicated here. For safety reasons, chicken and pork should always be cooked thoroughly. Use fresh vegetables in season if it is more convenient. This is a forgiving dish and you can add or subtract vegetables, meat and even seafood depending on what you have available.
- Ingredient Information: Sesame oil is a thick, amber-colored oil pressed from roasted sesame seeds. The oil has a rich, nutty flavor which enhances Chinese dishes. Sesame oil is used in small amounts as a seasoning. It has a rich nut aroma. This can be purchased from Asian markets or online sources. (Reference from "The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook" by Patricia Tanumihardja).
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Notes on Nutrition: The nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and specific brands of ingredients used.
Did you like this recipe? I have more classic recipes inspired by my late mother’s cooking in my popular cookbook: My Mother’s Philippine Recipes. If you’re learning how to cook Filipino food or a fan of Philippine cuisine, buy my cookbooks and books on Amazon.com sold worldwide in paperback and Kindle format.
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