My Mother's Cooking - Pork Chop Suey
Pork Chop Suey
What is Chop Suey?
Pork Chop Suey
Pork Chop Suey
My mother was one of ten children living on a poor potato farm in North Central Wisconsin. There were nine daughters and one son and as soon as they graduated from the eighth grade, they were expected to leave home and find work in the city.
The story of how my mother ended up working as a waitress in Milwaukee is told in my short story called Graduation. During the period of her life when she worked in Milwaukee, my mother learned to like Chinese food, in particular chop suey and egg foo young.
After she married my father and moved back to North Central Wisconsin, my mother developed her own version of pork chop suey. In the late 1940s there were no Chinese restaurants in that part of Wisconsin and fresh Chinese produce was also unavailable there. Water chestnuts and bean sprouts came in cans and there was only one brand of soy sauce called LaChoy’ which was made in Minnesota, I believe.
My mother used onions for flavor and celery to give the dish some crunch. She added sliced canned water chestnuts and drained canned bean sprouts, which were no longer crisp, and she made a rich brown gravy from the meat. It wasn’t very Chinese, but it tasted great. Maybe if I called it something else people wouldn’t compare it to what they get at their local Chinese restaurant.
I have made a few modifications to my mother’s recipe based on the availability of fresh ingredients. I still use canned water chestnuts but I use fresh mushrooms and bean sprouts in place of the canned ones, which she used. I normally have good quality Chinese soy sauce on hand but you can use Kikkoman if that is all you have. I also use a can of chicken stock and cornstarch for the sauce.
1 ½ Hours
2 Lbs. of Lean Pork cut into ¾ inch cubes
¼ Cup Cooking Oil
1 Medium Onion cut in half and cut into half inch strips
2 Celery Stalks, cleaned and cut into half inch sections
4 Oz. of Fresh Bean Sprouts
1 Small Can of Water Chestnuts drained and sliced
8 Oz. of Button Mushrooms Washed, trimmed and cut in half
2 Garlic Cloves peeled and finely chopped
1-14 Oz. Can of Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
1 Oz. of Cornstarch dissolved in ¼ Cup of Cold Water
1 Teaspoons Salt
½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Cup of Long Grain white Rice cooked With 2 Cups of Water
- Lightly brown the pork cubes in a skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Add the celery, the mushrooms, the onions and the garlic and continue cooking until the mushrooms release their water.
- Add the chicken broth, soy sauce, bean sprouts and the water chestnuts and simmer for about 45 minutes until the pork is tender.
- Finally, stir in the cornstarch and water mixture and adjust the seasoning with soy sauce if necessary.
- You should have started cooking the rice when you started the pork, because the rice can stand for a long time before it is served.
Another version of Chop Suey
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Milwaukee, Wisconsin where my mother learned to love Chinese food.
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