Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chop Suey (Mom's Way)

I was very difficult to feed as a child. It’s either logannissa or tocino or I would not eat at all. For a time I only favoured the fat of the tocino rather than the lean meat. Thank God I eventually out grew that.

My kids are not dissimilar to how I was, especially my son. Although I know that he’s inherited it from me it is still a never ending source of frustration when he would not eat the food that I’ve prepared. WARNING: Just in case you’ve invited him for a meal at your place please remember he only likes egg white (if you’re serving eggs, that is).

As a youngster vegetables and me did not get along well. The health benefits of vegetables were not enough to coax me into putting any in my mouth. They taste horrible and the texture very off putting. Remember all those TV ads? Ang malunggay…bow. I thought this just made them look desperate. Thank God, once again, I’ve matured…I think.

But mom, in her very clever way, managed to make me eat a variety of vegies by preparing a Filipino style Chop Suey. I did not put up a fight when mom cooks this. It appealed to me as a child with its variety of colours and the “special” vegetables mom adds to her Chop Suey. Celery, broccoli and cauliflower were a rarity in our kitchen. They were expensive and therefore only for special occasions. Quail eggs were added when she’s feeling a bit more generous. But one ingredient that gives a unique but very tasty addition to the finished dish was chicken liver. Mom’s Chop Suey is not complete without chicken livers. It was one of the first dishes I learned to cook in early ventures in the kitchen.

Chop Suey has a lot of variations depending on which country you are from. The Philippines is no exception in creating its own version with each Filipino household further adding to the diversity of this dish. But basically Chop Suey is a melange of vegetables and meat and or seafood cooked quickly like a stir fry.

I’ve undergone some minor surgery a few days back (reason for the lack of posts) and it made me yearn for the taste of home. So, in my post-op state, I concoct my own chop suey version using what we have in the fridge. There was no cauliflower or capsicum but we have chicken livers.

Mom’s Chop Suey

2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 large onion chopped
1 stalk of celery cut diagonally
Chicken livers chopped (as little or as much as you like)
Chicken/pork/beef/prawns whatever is available
1 carrot
1 broccoli
6 button mushrooms
Half a cauliflower
Half a cabbage
Other vegetables you can add are chokoes (sayote), snow peas, beans etc.
Fish sauce (salt or soy sauce are good substitutes)
Oyster sauce
½ tablespoon of cornstarch (mixed in ½ cup of chicken stock)
Another ½ cup of chicken stock
A bit of oil for sautéing

1. Heat up a bit of oil in a pan. Stir fry the garlic until golden brown.
2. Add the onion and stir fry until translucent.
3. Add the chicken livers and the meat/seafood of your choice.
4. Add the stock and cook the liver and the meat/seafood until done. Season with a bit of fish sauce.
5. Add the vegetable that takes the longest to cook. If you have chokoes they should go in first. 6. Otherwise, the carrots and the celery should be added at this stage.
7. This should be followed by the broccoli and the cauliflower.
8. Add the mushroom and the cabbage while the broccoli is still half done.
9. Adjust the seasoning by adding more fish sauce (or salt or soy sauce) and oyster sauce.
10. Add the cornstarch mixture to thicken the sauce and cook for about a minute.
11. Serve with jasmine rice.


Tangled Noodle said...

Hope you are recuperating comfortably!

I was notorious for being anti-vegetable as a child and like you, I fortunately grew out of it as an adult. Which is why this chop suey looks absolutely appetizing to me now although 30 years ago, the broccoli and cauliflower would've doomed it, in my estimation!

Ahh! Chicken livers - haven't had those in a while. I loved chicken insides, all fried up with onions and served over rice. Mmmmm . . .

The Beancounter said...

Hello there TN! I just rang work to tell them i won't be coming in today....I am healing well though... botox injections take a while to settle ;)

adobo style chicken livers with lots of onions... yum, indeed!

raquel said...

my grandmother cooked chop suey the same way and also only on special occasions (fiesta, birthdays, special sundays, etc). my cousins and I will fight over the chicken livers. it doesn't matter if the vegetables were overcooked, we still loved lola's chop suey.

The Beancounter said...

Raquel, there's something 'bout Lola's touch ei? Ako rin, my Lolo's adobo is what i always crave... tried making my own but is far less superior...