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Old 07-13-2010, 03:57 PM   #21
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As a child, I loved the crispy Chinese noodles. I would have eaten the canned La Choy Chow Mein for them. (If anyone suddenly has a desire to try this, DON'T! La Choy Chow Mein was not even good as a childhood memory!)

In college, I had a friend who was addicted to the La Choy Chop Suey. It was horrible even for what was acceptable for cheap college food status. (Like...Ramen noodles in the cellophane package was acceptable.) It was so horrible that I would not even have ordered chop suey in a restaurant - so I have never had it for comparison though the descriptions on the menu make me think it is likely better than my other chop suey experience.

That being said, I'm perplexed why anyone would try a dish they do not enjoy at multiple restaurants. Moo Goo Gai Pan, for example, to me is not really yummy. I had it on a buffet and was like 'meh.' I had it at another restaurant off of their menu and again felt it was better but meh. I'd never go on a comparison quest for good moo goo gai pan b/c the combination to me is meh......unless perhaps enticed by crispy noodles. Okay, not even then. Too many other more appealing things on the menu.

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Old 07-13-2010, 05:05 PM   #22
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I just want to say to people saying Chop Suey is bland, do you really mean not spicy? Because the dish on Long Island is def. not bland. I have it when I want something light and it hits the spot. It is usually made with a white sauce that is garlicky with onions, celery, and sometimes chinese cabbage. I usually add hot pepper oil but it is a dish I like to have once in awhile. It has plenty of flavor where I am just not a lot of heat.
So do you make your own or do you add the oil to take out? Just curious.
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Old 07-13-2010, 05:54 PM   #23
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I don't remember that the vegetables in Chop Suey were bigger than those in chow mein, but in the early '50s in Seattle Chop Suey was served over Chinese rice and Chow Mein was the same as Chop Suey except it was served over crisp Chinese noodles.
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:21 PM   #24
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From what I remember growing up back in NY (& my mom was stirfrying with interesting ingredients long before anyone even knew what a wok was!), the local Chinese takeout joints served "Chop Suey", with options of chicken, shrimp, or pork, & it was a somewhat slimy concoction of the chosen meat along with celery, onions, bok choy, & sometimes carrots in a bland "white" sauce. "Chow Mein" was pretty much the same sad mix, but topped with old-time generic crispy noodles. That was the only difference between the two.
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:40 PM   #25
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I wasn't endorsing the explanation I posted. I just thought it was an amusing addition to the list of explanations we have discussed. I doubt there is much difference, if any, between the two.

I remember having that LaChoy stuff when I was a kid and haven't had it since. SO likes it, so I created a recipe for veggie chop suey/chow mein that is the same as the stuff from a local restaurant she really likes. I eat something else when she has that.
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:44 PM   #26
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I was at a chinese restaurant this weekend and asked this very question and the answer was.. "the chow mein costs $1.00 more"


:)
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Old 07-13-2010, 06:46 PM   #27
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I was at a chinese restaurant this weekend and asked this very question and the answer was.. "the chow mein costs $1.00 more"


:)

Finally! An accurate answer.
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Old 07-13-2010, 09:22 PM   #28
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I was at a chinese restaurant this weekend and asked this very question and the answer was.. "the chow mein costs $1.00 more"

:)
It's those crispy noodles driving up the price!
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:00 AM   #29
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ok, so, from what i've learned over the years, chop suey is a chinese american invention using local ingredients as proxies, and is eaten with rice because the early chinese immigrants were primarily from the south, an area of great rice production.

chow mein is also considered american but is more solidly realtable to authentic chinese peasent dishes. the biggest difference is that it is supposed to be eaten with fried noodles, a dish representative of northern china as wheat is the staple crop there. hence, more noodle production/consumption than rice.

on a side note, i love a good moo goo gai pan, but i agree with kathleen that it's often meh in most restaurants. i've found chinese joints that can make good moo goo often make other things like oyster sauce, lobster cantonese, the aforemention chop suey, and other white sauced dishes well.

i fact, a my favourite take out does moo goo in white, brown, and garlic, and spicy sauces.
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Old 07-14-2010, 08:53 AM   #30
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on a side note, i love a good moo goo gai pan, but i agree with kathleen that it's often meh in most restaurants. i've found chinese joints that can make good moo goo often make other things like oyster sauce, lobster cantonese, the aforemention chop suey, and other white sauced dishes well.

i fact, a my favourite take out does moo goo in white, brown, and garlic, and spicy sauces.
When I read the description for moo goo gai pan, I think it has everything I will love and, therefore, I would love the dish. It's so disappointing to have that anticipation and then have it fall short. To be honest, I think you are correct in that it is likely the sauce that makes it meh to me. I take my disappointment out of the mu shu pork or some spicy veggie dish.

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Old 07-14-2010, 11:45 AM   #31
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Since I'm originally from Long Island, where exactly do you enjoy it where "Chop Suey" is so enticing?

Because while I obviously never hit every Chinese eatery there, I never found one that made a "Chop Suey" any way but bland. Frankly, "Chop Suey" was never meant to be & isn't a "spicy" dish by nature, no matter who is making it. Bland - or "mild", if you prefer - dishes are just as much a part of the Chinese plate as the spicy stuff. If you enjoy them - that's what's important.

Take "Shrimp with Lobster Sauce" - something I enjoy making myself as well as enjoy in a restaurant. Definitely not spicy at all, but still delicious.
Well, I don't know why people feel the need to become a bit rude to complete strangers when discussing this topic. I do think "bland" is a matter of opinion and btw, I live in Suffolk County. And I never said "enticing".

So to clear up matters, the foods I consider bland would be white rice, cream of wheat, plain pasta, saltines...Do I consider a white sauce with garlic and vegetables bland? No. Do I think Chow Mein/Chop Suey is not worth eating because it is a dish that is not authentic Chinese cuisine? No. Do I think it is authentic Chinese food? No. The discussion is about Chop Suey for pete's sake, not dim sum delicacies.

Everyone has their opinion and tastebuds, people should respect that.
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Old 07-14-2010, 11:49 AM   #32
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Everyone has their opinion and tastebuds, people should respect that.
Well said librarygrrl. The good news is that 99.99% of the people here agree with you
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Old 07-14-2010, 12:37 PM   #33
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At my local places, Chop Suey is a mixture of onion, cabbage, bean sprouts, and carrots served in a corn-starch thickened chicken broth that is heavily flavored with garlic. It is sold in the common meat varients as well, and comes with a pint of steamed rice. Chow Mien costs a little more and includes fried noodles.

I find that when salted properly, it is a very satisfying dish - flavorful and not in the least bit bland. Many local places serve fried wonton strips instead of the fried noodle cake.

As for the origin - I've heard many of the same origins told here. One of note was a History channel documentary on the first American Railways. I remember a part that described Chinese immigrants from San Francisco who cooked simple stir-fried/stewed vegetable dishes with whatever they could find. They were called Chop Suey.

Of course being a New Englander, Chop Suey is synonymous in my home with American Chop Suey - hamburger, onions, tomatoes, and elbow macaroni.
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:32 PM   #34
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Of course being a New Englander, Chop Suey is synonymous in my home with American Chop Suey - hamburger, onions, tomatoes, and elbow macaroni.
...and I have never understood what made that chop suey! Just one of several "Bostonisms" I encountered when I moved there that made no sense to me.
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Old 07-14-2010, 01:34 PM   #35
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that proves how much you can learn here.

i'd never heard of american chop suey until i read about it here not too long ago. sounds good, in a homey, hearty kind of way.

and like i mentioned before, a good restaurant can do white sauces as tasty as any other; not bland.
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Old 07-14-2010, 03:11 PM   #36
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Old 07-14-2010, 04:49 PM   #37
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I've never had what some call chop suey, but what I have had has been tasty and leaves me waiting for a chnce to have it again. I don't find it bland. I find it soothing and a comfort dish that I would love to master. I know some don't like it but I feel as adults we have the right to eat tings we enjoy without being told we are wrong. If ya like it so be it. ENJOY
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:10 PM   #38
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...and I have never understood what made that chop suey! Just one of several "Bostonisms" I encountered when I moved there that made no sense to me.
The same dish we in Boston call American Chop Suey some parts of the South call "Goulash" and it has no relationship to actual goulash whatsoever. An all-American dish with regional names.
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Old 07-14-2010, 07:22 PM   #39
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Of course being a New Englander, Chop Suey is synonymous in my home with American Chop Suey - hamburger, onions, tomatoes, and elbow macaroni.
That's Goulash to me.. hmm haven't made that in a long time.. think I know what dinner will be one nigh the weekend. Thanks for the memory prod!

Oh..btw.I'm origianlly from NY.. go figure.
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Old 07-15-2010, 09:18 AM   #40
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In a pinch, when I don't have time to stew it, I make it in the pressure cooker. Cubed pork, cubed beef, huge amount of celery and mushrooms... Its quick and GOOOOOOD.
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