Chop Suey by Kai Chan

Chop Suey
by Kai Chan

Recently I took out all the vegetables that have been siting in the fridge for a while to prepare a sauce for a pasta. There was carrot, burdock, parsnip, bitter melon, kale, celery, zucchini, fennel, and red and green peppers in the mix. By the time I cleaned out the good ones and cut them into fine julienne, it occurred to me that I had a chop suey dish on hand. I fried them with olive oil and chopped garlic, added carrot, parsnip and burdock first, then put in the bitter melon and the rest of the ingredients, adjust the taste with salt and black pepper. It is such a hefty dish at the end there was no need to add pasta to the meal.

Chop suey has been a  prominent feature in North American Chinese restaurants. It was a dish invented to entice Westerners to Chinese food. It is made up of a mixture of vegetables and nuts. With additional small pieces chicken, pork or beef, they appeared in the menu as  Chicken, Pork or Beef Tings. Ting in Chinese means tiny, and it sounds catchy for the customers.

These “Suey” and “Ting“ mean small pieces, which make them a quick way to cook and does not require a large quantity of meat. This combination of several ingredients creates a multi-tasting crisp and delicious dish that are fresh to the Westerners’ appetite. No surprise, it is still on most Chinese restaurant’s menu!


The Raw and the Cooked, MYTHOLOGIQUES is a new column on the culture of eating and cooking, with contributions by various authors. The column name is borrowed from the title of a book by Claude Levi-Strauss. It is spontaneous, a little amusing but serious at the same time.

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