Chinese cuisine is one of the most popular cuisine worlds over. The blend of flavors, tastes, colors make an unforgettable meal. We have different types of everyday meals, but one that confuses people a lot is the chop suey and chow Mein.
Today we explain in detail the two of the most memorable meals, including the ingredients, nutrition facts, and more.
The fact that Chinese cuisine is famous has made it easy to find a Chinese restaurant in almost every city worldwide. And while you may want to go into any restaurant, it’s best if you know what you are going for.
Otherwise, you will ask for the wrong dish to use every time, and you don’t want that to happen.
Understanding the chop suey
Are you from China, yet you don’t know much about this dish? Well, it’s okay; that’s because this one didn’t originate from China. This is a meal invented by the Chinese immigrants in America.
The unique thing you will realize is that this dish has no strict definition, and that’s because the name refers to no recipe. Don’t expect to find it in any formal settings of the traditional Chinese dishes.
It consists of veggies, meats, seafood, rice, and different sauces with Chinese-style flavors. Notice that the vegetable here is the main dish. In most cases, you have the bean sprout, but you will also mix it with other styles of veggies you have.
You could use broccoli or cauliflower and just any other type of veggie. The difference will be when you mix it with the other sweet flavors of the sauce, as that is what will make it a Chinese meal and not just a mix of vegetables and meats.
To describe it more
Notice that this is an Americanized Chinese meal.
It has the base: here, you will have them serve this meal with rice in most cases, but sometimes they even use noodles. Such noodles then are steamed.
The meats: you can use the different meats that include beef, pork, chicken, seafood but sometimes even eggs.
Veggies: remember we already mentioned that vegetables are the most vital aspect of this meal. We already said you could use the bean sprouts and the celery and the broccoli and cauliflower if you like.
The sauce is another vital part of the meal that you will need to have topped with a thick starch-based gravy.
One thing that stands out, therefore, is that you can have the different Chop suey variations. There’s no particular standard, so on your part, the best thing to do is to enjoy the meal. It does matter whether you understand how it’s supposed to look or not; enjoy it.
What is chow Mein
Another one of the most common Chinese meals is the chow Mein. Now you should know that the Chow Mein has no clear definitions, just the same as the chop suey. You can’t just point it out to say it’s this and that.
However, chow Mein refers to the term stir fry noodles. Often what happens is that they will fry the already boiled noodles. It usually has a few vegetables with the meats as well. This is a vastly typical dish here in America, too, because the Cantonese immigrants brought the idea into the country.
The easiest way to know your chow Mein is that it’s a mother of all noodle dishes. So then the noodles you use for chow Mein are made using wheat.
Therefore, this is to say that you should be ready to eat some of the best noodles ever used. So you can expect the noodles, meats, veggies. The sauce will make the difference to the flavors and the texture, and the looks of the meal.
Like the chop suey above, you have the different variants of the Chow Mein as well. One of the most common ones, though, is Hong Kong-style chow Mein. Remember you will have the brown sauce.
The chow Mein then has the following body style, you know.
The base: notice that this one will have noodles as the main ingredients. Such noodles then are stir-fried. To begin with, this is going to be the main difference. Nonetheless, sometimes they use rice, and it still makes the chow Mein, but in most instances, rice makes the chop suey.
The veggies: again, unlike the one we have above where you can use many vegetables, you only use lo Mein.
The sauce: here then you will have the soy sauce, and then you can thicken it with the cornstarch, and in most cases, then it will make the delicious sauce in no time.
The one we have above comes in different variations, but I was hoping you would not confuse it with the lo Mein. There’s a big difference between them, remember.
Understanding these two types better
When you want to know more about the dish, then you should check how they make it or the ingredients you will have in the dish too. You will need to talk about the recipe if you understand it best.
Of course, there will be different recipes derived, but the basic one is below. I want us to identify the main ingredients to use, which will then create the difference.
You will need the stir-frying noodles as the main thing to know what you need. So, of course, you can find the special chow Mein noodles, and when you do, this is the best chow Mein you will be making. Here you then have the wonton noodles to use.
The vegetables to use:
Notice that it uses almost the same veggies as those you see for the chop suey: Bean sprout, celery, broccoli, bell peppers. You can also use carrots and cabbages.
You will need the oil and the onions as well to start the preparation of the meal.
For the sauce
You will need several sauces, but you should have soy sauce and oyster sauce if you can; you can use the cooking wine to make it even better. Remember, you should be lenient with the salt when you have such ingredients as you could make it excessively salty.
If you like, then you can add the meat of your choice. Whether you like chicken, pork or beef is all a choice you have to make.
A summary on how to cook chow Mein
Of course, depending on where you are, the cooking will be different in all aspects. This concept is different, but there’s one way you will know how to make it. I want you to know that chow Mein is never the same in the different regions.
You will order the chow Mein on the east coast, then go to the west coast and Hong Kong, and it will never be the same. All the places will cook it all differently.
Here’s the thing though, if you order it in Hong Kong, you will have it being crispy deep-fried version. In other parts, then you will have them make the noodles be the steamed options.
The most common one is where they will cook the noodles in boiling water for about 5 minutes. They will then always give you the sesame oil coating, and this is intensely flavored, remember. But it will prevent the possibility of sticking.
Season your meats or the chicken with soy sauce, oyster sauce, and the Chinese special five-spice. Of course, once you mix them well, you should let them rest for a few minutes. Next also coat the meat or chicken pieces with the cornstarch.
Heat your wok and add on some oil. If you are using groundnut oil or vegetable oil, then allow it to reach its heating point. Add on the pieces of meat or the chicken to let it stir fry and cook right.
It’s then time to add the veggies. Please start with the bell peppers and start to stir fry it a bit. Follow through with the onions allowing it enough time to heal fully. Add on the bean sprouts to stir fry and cook thoroughly.
Finalize by adding on the noodles and then keep stirring. You don’t want anything to stick on the surface. Season it then with the light soy sauce then; you can also add the black pepper and sesame oil before you serve it to enjoy alongside other meals.
One thing that will stand out about this meal is that it features a meat stir fry. It’s also one of the healthiest options you can have. It contains rich veggies, and to make the meal, you are therefore using rich and healthy.
You will notice that it has the best Chinese restaurants. You will enjoy the brown sauce that makes the perfect meal in no time.
If you are going to use the chicken, then you should almost always use the tenderized chicken. Alternatively, you can first tenderize your chicken. You will be amazed at just how juicy the chicken gets.
Remember, if you want, though, you can use shrimps, pork, or even beef.
You will need a pack of veggies for the same.
Always have your beans sprouts in the recipe, but just so you know, you may have other veggies that include: broccoli, celery, cabbage, snow peas, carrots, bell peppers, to mention a few ones.
You can use the following ones for the sauce as well.
- Oyster sauce
- Soy sauce
You can then add some of the best vegetable oil or other flavored oils if you need them.
A summary on how to make the chop suey
I should mention that this is a typical Chinese American cuisine. Regardless you will find people making in other countries as well. If you even desire to use the noodles, though, you will need to know that you can deep fry it only, not even steam it at all.
As we have said already, this one will serve you best if you use authentic rice. This is when you should marinate the meat you have with the essence of allowing it to absorb the ingredients.
Just remember you will need to use the Shaoxing wine for the cooking process.
The great thing is that you can make it in such a short time. You need about five minutes to make the meal.
So you will need to start by sautéing the garlic with the onions. Then it would help if you cooked the meal combo allowing it to be brown too. After this, you should add chicken meat or even the pork and stir fry it for up to a minute. Remember, the meat we are using here is usually tender already. This should take about three minutes to have it cook.
You can then start to add the veggies depending on the ones that start to cook faster.
So you should add the ones that will take even longer to cook first. So add on the carrots and the bean sprouts as you keep stirring. Go on to add the celery and the cabbage if you have it to cook for at least 3-4 minutes.
As it’s preparing, then add the sauces. So then you should add the vinegar in a clean bowl, the Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cornstarch, and any other type of sauce you had.
Add this sauce to the vegetable and stir fry as you go on mixing it. Cover it and let it cook for the next 3-5 minutes. The result then should have the sauce being saucy still and thickened but not dry. Here you will still have the veggies being crispy tender, but they should never be soggy.
Now go on to set this over your already cooked or fried rice. If you don’t have the rice, then you can use the noodles of your choice.
Note that there will be different recipes trying to show you how to make the meal, and that’s okay. You can try to make it just as you like remember we said the chop suey is versatile.
You will only understand the differences well when we also show you the following subtitles.
Check the origin
Many people still confuse these two, but the truth is that they are initially from different parts. That’s the significant difference between them.
This one is undoubtedly originally from China. I know there’s so much argument about where it came from, but it’s obvious it’s from the northern part of China. It’s one of the most leisurely meals to make, and this is why it got so popular so fast across the country. The use of noodles makes it one of the most preferred because, as you know, noodles are a staple for us.
This one is originally from the US, but the Chinese migrants first made it in the 19th century. This is another delicious one that blends the Asian flavors with the mix of other regular ingredients you find here in America.
The truth is that appearance is what will give you the immediate difference when you compare. And the difference is majorly on the base of the meal.
This one often has a base made using rice. But you may find others where they make it using the noodles, but in most cases, they make the chop suey using the rice.
Here then is the typical difference. The chow Mein they will never serve with rice. This one, they use fried noodles all the time. To make the noodles, though, they use wheat flour and eggs. You will enjoy it when you notice that it has a satisfying taste.
How do they present it?
Of course, this one instead has no precise cut method to serve it. But when you look at the chop suey that they serve over rice, then you’ll know it.
Notice that this one is a different type of meal where the veggie they prepare will serve over the rice or the noodles. Notice the difference here you are serving it over rice. If you see the rice dish, you should know that this is anything like the chop suey.
This one is a mix of the meats, veggies, and sauces in a stir-frying wok. So you will not be serving anything over the other. You see, this is a clear difference again when you compare it to another.
So then for the Chow Mein, you will cook it or everything in the wok. So you will stir fry the noodles with the veggie and the meat.
Check the sauce
I know you may think this is not as important, but it gives your meal the appearance it then develops.
The chow Mein will first off have a thinner sauce than the other. The essence of making it a thin sauce is to make sure it never overpowers the meal flavors. You will notice that you will mostly have soy sauce and maybe garlic.
This is then to say you will have a blend of the veggies and the meats on the plate, and they are unique.
Chop suey, on the other hand, is going to be a thicker sauce. It will always get to become sweet and salty. But it will still be full of flavors. I know this is another significant difference you will notice.
Can you ever use leftovers?
Of course, you can make the chop suey using the leftovers. Remember the meal is not so exact and like we say it’s varying. If you mainly have rice leftovers, then you are sure it will work. This even works when you still use the noodles. Remember, you always need some meat and veggies to make it the perfect meal still.
But why is it so confusing?
The one thing that confuses people the most is the method you use in the preparation. Here’s how it happens you will find that some chefs will want to add shrimps and garlic while others don’t. I mean, it’s all the different styles of chow Mein even though others contain different ingredients.
As for the chop suey, you can be sure it’s even more confusing. The way people prepare it on the east coast is not the same as how they prepare it on the west coast. Did you know you can even add the shrimps to your chop suey? If you only have the shrimps, you should know that you can use them comfortably.
This is why I say you should not dislike either the chow Mein or the chop suey because it may just be that the chef making it for you is not using your preferred ingredients. Bottom-line, I must say the dishes are pretty diverse.
Is chow Mein and lo Mein the same?
I know why people refer to it as the same because they both use the noodles, but the method of preparation differs. Again the lo main uses they both use the noodles they make using the wheat flour and the eggs.
Suppose you will use the noodles for lo Mein though you will need to use the fresh egg noodles. Chow main uses both fresh noodles and the dried noodles. You can even use the Italian noodles if you want to make the chow Mein.
Which one should I use, chop suey or the chow Mein?
I bet that depends on your flavors and taste buds. Some people will tell you they like the chow Mein while others can swear by the chop swear. Whichever you choose, I hope it’s satiating and delicious to you. Just remember they are both so versatile, and you can make it as you would like.
In a nutshell, this is one of the easiest meals you can make even for the easy weeknight meals. If you like though you can also make them for your special weekends. Do you make this at home? What’s your favorite method to use in making it? I would like to see it.