A great, classic Chop Suey – Chicken Stir Fry recipe loaded with veggies! Learn the secret for how to make a sauce just like you get at the best Chinese restaurants. Plus, the secret for how to tenderise chicken the Chinese restaurant way!
Chop Suey recipe originally published November 2017, posted refreshed October 2018. No change to recipe!
CHOP SUEY SAUCE – RESTAURANT SECRET!
If you’ve ever wondered why your stir fries aren’t quite as tasty as what you get from (good) Chinese restaurants, this is probably what’s been missing from your sauces:
CHINESE COOKING WINE
It’s Chinese cooking wine. Also known as Shaoxing rice wine, Shao-hsing or Shaohsing. Even if you get every other ingredient “right” in a stir fry sauce, if you don’t use Chinese cooking wine, your stir fry will be missing that extra something-something that makes it truly taste restaurant quality.
It’s an ingredient that appears in almost every single Chinese recipe. From stir fries to noodles, soups and wontons, my general advice is that if you come across a stir fry recipe in your internet travels that does not call for Chinese cooking wine, I would proceed with caution.
Or if it really looks tasty and you really want to try it anyway, add a splash of Chinese cooking wine and know you’ve just improved the recipe. (*She ducks as food bloggers all over chuck rotten tomatoes at her* )
I use a brand called Double Pheonix (right red bottle) which I get from Asian grocery stores which costs a whopping $2 per bottle and makes around…. oh I don’t know. Maybe 50 batches of this Chicken Stir Fry? Bargain. Lasts for ages – years.
I know there are people who can’t get / can’t consume alcohol. And as stern as I may sound about needing Chinese cooking wine for stir fries, don’t worry. I have substitutions for you. But only for you. Those who can get their hands on Chinese cooking wine are not allowed to use the subs!
CHOP SUEY VS CHICKEN STIR FRY
Today, I’m sharing a recipe for Chicken Chop Suey which is otherwise known as Chicken Stir Fry.
Chop Suey is just a stir fry, a slightly westernised version of a classic, basic Chinese stir fry. Because of this, there really aren’t hard and fast rules about what goes in it, but the general characteristic is that the sauce is a fairly light brown colour, there is plenty of it and it’s pretty thick so it clings to your rice or noodles.
INGREDIENTS IN CHOP SUEY
I’ve made this with ingredients that are commonly used by Chinese restaurants for Chop Suey / Chicken Stir Fries – Asian greens, bean sprouts, carrots and mushrooms. The Asian green in this is Choy Sum which is a terrific minimal prep vegetable – just hack the end off, then hack it into 7cm / 3″ pieces. You’ll see me doing this in the video.
TENDERISE CHICKEN – THE CHINESE WAY
Have you noticed that the chicken in Chinese restaurants is incredibly soft and almost “velvety”? It’s because restaurants “velvet” the chicken (that’s the term that is used). There are a few ways to do this, but I like using a simple method using baking soda because I find it the easiest for home cooking.
It’s optional and not really necessary if you use chicken thighs which are a juicy cut. But if you are using chicken breast or tenderloins and you choose to tenderise it, you are going to be amazed how juicy and tender the chicken is.
“It’s just like the stir fries at Golden Century Chinese Restaurant!!”, first timers exclaim. Or Golden Palace or Golden Pearl or Golden Wheel or Golden Unicorn or Golden Dragon.
Ahh, Chinese restaurant names, they provide much amusement. But that’s a story for another time. – Nagi x
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
Chicken Stir Fry / Chicken Chop Suey
Recipe video above. The essential ingredient for a great stir fry sauce is Chinese cooking wine. All Chinese restaurants use it. See notes for subs if you can’t get your hands on it. Veggie loaded, light on the meat, this is healthy and adaptable to whatever you’ve got in your fridge!
Tenderised Chicken (Note 1):
- 180 g / 6 oz chicken breast (, thinly sliced)
- 1/2 tsp baking soda / bi-carb ((optional, Note 1))
Sauce (or use Charlie, Note 2):
- 1 tbsp cornflour / corn starch
- 1 1/2 tbsp light soy sauce ((Note 3))
- 2 tsp Oyster Sauce
- 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine (rice wine) ((Note 4))
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil ((optional))
- Dash of white pepper ((or black))
- 3/4 cup / 185 ml water
- 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil ((or other cooking oil))
- 2 garlic cloves (, finely chopped)
- 1/2 onion (, sliced (white, brown, yellow))
- 5 – 6 stems choy sum (or other Asian greens)
- 1 medium carrot
- 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms ((shiitake is authentic, but any will do))
- 1 cup bean sprouts
Tenderise Chicken (optional, Note 1)
- Place chicken in a bowl, sprinkle over baking soda. Use your fingers to mix then set aside for 20 minutes, no longer than 30 minutes (can get too tender). Rinse well, pat excess water with paper towels, set aside.
- Place cornflour and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix until lump free. Then add remaining Sauce ingredients and stir.
- Trim end off choy sum. Then cut into 7cm / 3″ pieces. Separate stems from leaves.
- Peel carrot, cut into 3cm / 1.3″ pieces. Then slice the pieces thinly (see video).
- Heat oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add garlic, stir quickly, then add onion, Cook for 1 minute, moving constantly, until onion is starting to wilt.
- Add chicken, cook for 1 minute until the surface changes from pink to white.
- Add choy sum stems, carrot and mushrooms. Stir fry for 1 minute.
Add choy sum leaves, bean sprouts and Sauce. Stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes until the Sauce thickens to a thick syrup consistency. Vegetables should still be tender/crisp, not soggy and soft.
- Remove from heat and serve immediately over rice or noodles.
1. Tenderised Chicken: This is one method that Chinese restaurants use to tenderise chicken – marinating chicken in baking soda. Breast in particular benefits from this – it makes it juicier and the texture more velvety (hence why this is called “velveting”). However, this step is optional.
2. CHARLIE is my All Purpose Stir Fry Sauce. If you haven’t met him yet and you love stir fries, you are going to be best friends very soon. Find the recipe for him here, along with how to use him. To use Charlie for this recipe, replace the Sauce with 4 tablespoons of Charlie + 3/4 tsp cornflour / cornstarch + 3/4 cup water.
3. LIGHT SOY SAUCE: This is what keeps the sauce colour clear-ish. You can use ordinary all purpose soy sauce and it will pretty much look the same. If you use dark soy sauce, reduce to 1 tbsp – will still be tasty but the sauce will be super dark brown and a stronger soy flavour.
4. CHINESE COOKING WINE: An essential in stir fries, it is what makes them taste as good as what you get at Chinese restaurants. Australia: Pandaroo Chinese Wine is now sold in Coles / Woolies / Harris Farms. Otherwise, Asian Grocery Stores sell it (see in post for photo) and it is much cheaper, $2 for a large bottle that will last for ages.
Substitutions: dry sherry (yes, really), Mirin (though your sauce will be a bit sweeter) or Japanese cooking Sake. Non alcoholic: Use chicken broth instead of water in the Sauce.
5. No need to marinate the chicken for this recipe because it’s sliced thinly and there’s plenty of sauce!
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 2 servings. It’s 2 very generous servings, with enough vegetables for a meal – you won’t need a side for this. Excludes rice / noodles.
LIFE OF DOZER
This big furry head was just out of frame in every photo in this post…..