The Bottom Line: Learn something new about Chop Suey
The Full Story:
- Chop suey consists of small pieces of meat, chicken or shrimp stir-fried with celery, onions, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, mushrooms and/or other vegetables, and served over rice, usually with soy sauce.
- Chop suey is not Chinese, but is a Chinese-American dish, which is believe to have originated in the mid to late 19th century, either with Chinese laborers working on the U.S. transcontinental railroad, Chinese immigrants in San Francisco, or the more entertaining tale of Chinese ambassador Li Hung Chang’s cooks. Legend is that while he was visiting New York, his cooks whipped up the dish for his American guests at a dinner on August 29th, 1896. Composed of celery, bean sprouts, and meat in a tasty sauce, the dish was supposedly created to satisfy both Chinese and American tastes.
- More recent information suggests that it originated in the Toisan region of China.
- After 1896, Americans began to visit Chinese restaurants in large numbers for the first time. A chop suey fad swept big cities such as New York and San Francisco.
- Questioning the origins of the chop suey story, scholars suspect restaurant owners used the popular ambassador's name to inspire interest in a Chinese dish adapted for Americans. But who cares – it’s delish!