Beef Chop Suey is one of those dishes I ate a lot growing up, but had kind of forgotten about.
My mother was/is a wonderful cook. But like anybody else, she had her repertoire so we tended to have the same dishes again and again.
We had Beef Chop Suey at least once every couple of weeks. I remember she would always cook it in her electric frying pan and served it with those little fried Chinese noodles, which we kids enjoyed more than we did the main dinner.
Another standard in our house was chipped beef, which was Buddig sliced “corned beef” in a sauce of milk thickened with a roux and served over mashed potatoes. Apparently, this was a variation of an well-known Army meal called “Sh*# on a Shingle,” which was chipped beef served over toast.
On Fridays during Lent, we would often have “salmon patties”, which were canned salmon mixed with mashed potatoes, formed into patties and pan fried. They were served with the same thickened milk sauce, except this time it had peas in it. Fancy!
My father’s favorite, however, was “gravy bread”. Basically, it was the drippings from a beef roast poured over a slice of white bread. I guess cholesterol hadn’t been invented yet back in the 1970s. Today this would be considered a heart attack on a plate.
On very special occasions, my mom would roll out her peice d’resistance: Stuffed Manicotti. These were tubular pasta shells stuffed with mixture of ricotta cheese, eggs and parsley (I think) topped with red sauce and melted mozzarella. It was was really great, so it deserved special status.
Anyway, here’s my Beef Chop Suey recipe. It varies a little from my mother’s but the flavor is remarkably the same.
When I ate this, it was like being transported back in a time machine to our family’s dinner table in the 1970s, with my brother kicking me under the table and my father admonishing us to keep our “elbows off the table”.
Good Catholic family that we were, every meal was preceded by “Grace”. We were never allowed to watch television during dinner in those days, even if your favorite show was on! And for some reason singing was also banned at the dinner table.
It’s funny what the flavor of a dish can make you remember.
Beef Chop Suey
1/2 lb Beef, cut into cubes
2 TBS Corn Starch
3 TBS Low-Sodium Soy Sauce, divided
1 Large Garlic Clove, crushed
1/2 tsp Sugar
6 Button Mushrooms, quartered
1 Broccoli Crown, cut into bite-sized peices
4 to 5 Napa Cabbage Leaves (or Bok Choy), cut into bite-sized peices
1 Large Carrot, peeled and sliced at an angle
2 Celery Stalks, sliced at an angle
1/2 White Onion, sliced thin
1 cup plus 2 TBS Water, divided
1/2 TBS Chili Sauce
2 TBS Canola Oil, divided
1. In a bowl, toss the beef in 1 TBS corn starch, 1 TBS soy sauce, garlic and sugar. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, combine 1 cup water, remaining 2 TBS of soy sauce, 1 TBS corn starch and the chili sauce. Set aside.
3. Place cast iron skillet or a wok over a high heat. When hot, add 1 TBS canola oil. When smoking, ad beef and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove beef from pan and set aside. Return pan to heat. When hot, add remaining TBS of canola oil. When smoking, add vegetables and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add 2 TBS water, cover and cook 2 minutes more.
4. Add the liquid mixture and stir until it comes to a boil and thickens and vegetables are soft, about 3 minutes. Return beef to the pan, cook until heated through and remove from heat. Serve over rice or noodles.
To me, my mother’s Beef Chop Suey tasted like love.