Chop Suey – a saucy chicken stir fry loaded with tender pieces of chicken, vegetables and smothered in Chinese brown sauce just like you get at the best Chinese restaurants! Use any vegetables you want in this quick and easy stir fry.
This recipe also shares two little known Chinese restaurant secrets so you can make a stir fry that genuinely is as good as your favourite take out!
Chop Suey – Chicken Stir Fry
Chop Suey is just 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 you know I love my sauce!!) and it’s pretty thick so it clings to your rice or noodles.
How to make a Chop Suey that’s REALLY restaurant quality
If you’ve ever wondered why your stir fries aren’t quite as tasty as what you get from (good) Chinese restaurants, here are the two things you’ve probably been missing:
Secret 1 – Chinese Cooking Wine
Chinese cooking wine (or Shaoxing Wine) is the secret ingredient in almost every Chinese recipe that’s used by the gallon in Chinese restaurants around the world! It adds depth and complexity of flavour into even the most simple sauces with just a small amount. Read more about it here, including why it’s so important, the difference it makes in recipes and the best substitutes.
Best substitutes for Chinese Cooking Wine – Mirin or dry sherry.
Best non alcoholic substitute for Chop Suey is to use chicken broth (liquid chicken stock) in place of water in the sauce.
Secret 2 – Tenderised Chicken
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 where the chicken is coated in a small amount of baking soda (bi-carb), left for 20 minutes to tenderise, then rinsed before cooking in the stir fry. It’s the easiest and least effort for home cooking – and 100% effect.
Velveting is optional if using chicken thighs because it’s 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.
Read more about this – Velveting: Chinese Restaurant Way to Tenderise Chicken.
What goes in Chop Suey
I’ve make Chop Suey with ingredients that are commonly used by Chinese restaurants – Asian greens (Choi Sum), bean sprouts, carrots and mushrooms. But feel free to use whatever vegetables you want!
How to make Chop Suey
Chop Suey is a 5 minute stir fry that starts off by sautéing garlic and onion before adding vegetables in the order in which they cook. Vegetables that take longer to cook go in first, and more delicate vegetables (like leafy greens) go in last.
Then the sauce is added, simmered for just a minute or two so it thickens, then served immediately over rice to soak up all that tasty sauce!
What to serve with Chop Suey
With all that tasty sauce, Chop Suey demands to be served with rice! Though if you’re looking for a low carb option, cauliflower rice is a terrific alternative.
If you’re making this as part of a larger banquet or you want to make a menu to serve 4+ people, try adding some of these other dishes to your menu:
If you’re new to this Chop Suey recipe, be prepared to be amazed how similar it really is to Chinese takeout.
“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
Chop Suey – Chicken Stir Fry
Optional Tenderised Chicken (Note 1):
- 180g (6oz ) 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 , or all purpose soy(Note 3)
- 1 tbsp Oyster Sauce (Note 4)
- 1 tbsp Chinese Cooking Wine (Note 5)
- 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
“Velvet” 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 (see video).
Sauce: Place cornflour and soy sauce in a bowl. Mix until lump free. Then add remaining Sauce ingredients and stir.
Chop choy sum: Trim end off choy sum. Then cut into 7cm (3″) pieces. Separate stems from leaves.
Chop carrot – Peel then cut into 3cm (1.3″) pieces. Then slice the pieces thinly.
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.
Serve immediately with rice (for low carb, low cal option, try Cauliflower Rice!)
Skip the step if using chicken thigh – it’s not needed, it’s juicy enough.
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. Oyster sauce – substitute with Vegetarian Oyster Sauce (available at some large grocery stores) for vegetarian / shellfish free option.
5. CHINESE COOKING WINE: An essential in Chinese cooking, used by every Chinese restaurant. Read more here.
Substitutions: dry sherry or Mirin, followed by Japanese cooking Sake.
Non alcoholic: Use chicken broth instead of water in the Sauce.
6. No need to marinate the chicken for this recipe because it’s sliced thinly and there’s plenty of sauce!
7. 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. Use low sodium soy sauce to reduce sodium.
Originally published November 2017, modified October 2018, and updated March 2020 with new photos and video! No change to the recipe!
More stir fry favourites!
Life of Dozer
This big furry head was just out of frame in every photo in this post…..
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