Recipe #47: CHOP SUEY

Is chop suey Chinese? American? Nobody seems to know the answer.

Based on the name alone, chop suey (literally means assorted pieces) is most likely of Chinese origin or created by Chinese-American immigrants. Bits and pieces of leftover meat and vegetables are mixed together and stir-fried to avoid wastage, accidentally creating an iconic and versatile Asian dish.

Not to cause confusion, the American chop suey is not the same as the Asian chop suey — not even closely similar. The former is an American pasta dish which is influenced by Italian-American flavor. The name, however, was borrowed from China because it is sometimes prepared using a hodgepodge of meat and vegetables.

Asian countries, such as Thailand and India, have their own versions of chop suey. Some are sweet, some are spicy. In Indonesia, it’s called can cai which is quite similar to the Filipino version. The Filipino chop suey itself has so many ways to prepare. My lola’s version, called vianda (probably has a Spanish influence), contains chorizo de bilbao or Chinese chorizo which adds a lovely aromatic sweetness into the sauce.

Chop Suey Recipe

Chop Suey can be served as a main or as a side to your meat dishes. In Filipino fiestas and other special occasions, chop suey is served to add variety in a usually meat-centric buffet table. Enjoy it with steamed rice, or stir-fry it with your favorite noodles, such as canton or bihon, to make a beautifully delicious chow mein or pancit.

In this recipe, I’m using chicken meat, but you can also use thinly sliced pork, beef, or seafood. Shrimp is highly preferred. Some recipes may also call for tripes or chicken liver. Hard-boiled quail eggs are kids’ favorite. Go vegan by removing the meat or by replacing it with tofu or mushroom, minus the oyster sauce.

Aside from the ones listed below, there are other kinds of vegetables that you may or may not add, such as bell pepper, bean sprouts, patola (luffa), upo (bottle gourd), and green beans. The choice of vegetables is all up to you.

Ready? Warm up your wok and grab the recipe below:

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Recipe #45: SINIGANG NA ISDA SA MISO (Fish in Tamarind & Miso Soup)

Sinigang sa Miso is to the Philippines what Seafood Tom Yum is to Thailand. A type of tamarind-based soup (although sometimes guavas or kamias are used), Sinigang is arguably second to the Adobo in the popularity hierarchy of Filipino cuisine, and probably as ubiquitous as the Chicken Tinola.

However, the countries that have more similar dishes to Sinigang are perhaps from our next-door neighbors; Malaysia’s Singgang and Indonesia’s Sayur Asem also use tamarind as a souring agent unlike Thailand’s Tom Yum which uses lime.

Sinigang na Isda sa Miso 1-2

It’s apparent that sampaloc or tamarind is a very popular ingredient in many tropical countries as a souring agent in a number of savory dishes and as candied snacks. For example, one of the key ingredients of the popular Thai stir-fried noodle dish Pad Thai is tamarind paste. In the Philippines, aside from Sinigang and tamarind candies, we also have a dish called Sinampalukang Manok which uses tamarind leaves.

Today’s Sinigang na Isda sa Miso recipe is a popular variation of this national dish which you will surely enjoy especially if you love fish. Miso, a fermented soybean paste typically associated with Japanese cuisine, is an important element of this recipe. The sourness of tamarind adds a tangy counterpoint to miso‘s umami flavor which creates an outrageously delicious soup base.

Please enjoy the recipe below:

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Recipe #42: GINISANG MUNGGO (Mung Bean Soup)

So, I’ve been staying at home for the past six days, nursing a flu (and a cold and a cough). My body finally gave up on me. I haven’t been sick for years now and I thought it can still take all the stress. I’m blaming everything on the weather; 34 degrees C (about 93.2 degrees F) of glorious summer heat practically envelopes the entire Metro Manila. And it’s still getting hotter!

There’s no comfort in being sick especially during the hot season. The rainy season is more merciful; you can easily find pleasure with a bowl of warm soup or a serving of porridge or a cup of hot something. In this weather, they might be a bit hard to appreciate. But, I still wanted my bowl of soup, so, I came down to a decision and gathered all my strength to get up and prepare my favorite comfort food — Ginisang Munggo.

Ginisang Munggo

I love Ginisang Munggo. I used to not like it when I was a child for reasons that I don’t remember, then I started liking it when I was growing up. Ginisang Munggo is pure pleasure in a bowl. Although technically it’s a soup, most Pinoys would eat it with rice. It’s the perfect partner for your fried dishes, especially fish. Ginisang Munggo is usually served every Friday (if you know why, let me know by leaving a comment below!), but I’d eat it any day of the week anyway!

There are many ways to prepare Ginisang Munggo. If you can buy chicharon with laman (pork cracklings), you can use that instead of rendering pork meat. You can also make it vegan or vegetarian friendly by removing the pork and/or shrimp altogether and use tofu instead. For the leafy ingredient, I personally prefer malunggay (moringa or horseradish tree) because it’s packed with nutrients. The thickness of the soup depends on your desired consistency; just add more water and adjust the seasoning.

Note: If you have a high level of uric acid, this dish may not be for you. I’m looking at you, Larry.

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