Chop suey (Chinese: 杂碎; pinyin: zá suì; literally "assorted pieces") is a Chinese dish consisting of meats (often chicken, fish, beef, shrimp or pork) and eggs, cooked quickly with vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, and celery and bound in a starch-thickened sauce. It is typically served with rice but can become the Chinese-American form of chow mein with the addition of stir-fried noodles.
Chop suey has become a prominent part of American Chinese cuisine, Filipino cuisine, Canadian Chinese cuisine, Indian Chinese cuisine, and Polynesian cuisine.
Chop suey is widely believed to have been invented in America by Chinese immigrants, but in fact comes from Taishan, a district of Guangdong Province which was the home of many of the early Chinese immigrants; the Hong Kong doctor Li Shu-fan reported that he knew it in Taishan in the 1890s.
Chop suey first appears in an American publication in 1888: "A staple dish for the Chinese gourmand is chow chop svey [sic], a mixture of chickens' livers and gizzards, fungi, bamboo buds, pigs' tripe, and bean sprouts stewed with spices." In 1898, it is described as "A Hash of Pork, with Celery, Onions, Bean Sprouts, etc."
Despite its Taishan background, there are various colorful stories about its origin, which Davidson (1999) characterizes as "culinary mythology": Some say it was invented by Chinese immigrant cooks working on the United States Transcontinental railway in the 19th century. Another story is that it was invented during Qing Dynasty premier Li Hongzhang's visit to the United States in 1896 by his chef, who tried to create a dish suitable for both Chinese and American palates:. There is no good evidence for any of these stories.
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