It takes my 2019 Cooking Challenge to pull me back to the JMD blog after a month-long battle with bronchitis and ensuing ennui. But! Here I am, to regale you with my second dish of the year, in a post properly entitled Chop off the old block.
Blame it on Dad
My Dad and I share a lot of food tastes. I don’t know if that works in all families, but with him and me, it’s pretty comparable (except for beef liver…bleh).
So, I loves me onions and mushrooms and spicy foods and…
Among the too-numerous-to-list foods we enjoy is Chinese food. My Stepmom, however, is not a fan, so we rarely get to go.
We can generally finagle a trip when she’s at the hair salon. That’s when we hit those traditional hole-in-the-wall family owned Chinese restaurants.
You know the type…comes with soup and egg roll. Crunchy noodles to dip in duck sauce while you wait. Pot of hot tea. Yeah, those places.
Not on the menu
One item Dad likes a whole lot and I like too (though not as much as, say, sweet and sour pork) is Chop Suey.
Problem is, Chop Suey is rarely, if ever, shown on a menu. I have recently found out that’s because Chop Suey is not really Chinese cuisine. It’s Chinese American cuisine.
I’ll skip the history lesson for you, but it is interesting. You should look it up. Try this link…everything but the author’s opinion of Chop Suey is fun reading.
Never trust a recipe
One of the most consistent truths I’ve discovered during my cooking challenge is the prep times for all these dishes are totally bogus.
Honestly, unless these “chefs” have all the foods pre-cut and ready, I don’t see how they can make the claims for the time involved in prep.
For example, this recipe calls for a large onion, chopped; a full cup of sliced celery; half a cup of sliced mushrooms, a corn starch slurry, roughly a pound and a half of cubed meat (I chose chicken) and the various other items (bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots).
For all that, the recipe says 15 minutes. Right.
Making it happen
Whatever. I’m in this deep now, so I’m all over it.
I’ve got my onion chopped, my celery sliced and my chicken cubed. I’ve drained my sprouts, chestnuts and shoots. My shrooms are good to go. Let’s cook, baby!
So, first, get the Lo Mein noodles cooked and set aside. Done. Then, cook up the chicken. Nice. Saute the veggies. Add in the Chinese sides. Mix in the chicken and stir in the slurry. Leave it all on simmer.
The Daniels family touch
Time to check your retention skills. What do you recall about me and my Dad’s tastes?
So, the recipe calls for half a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Forget that! Full teaspoon (eh, maybe a little more…) goes in the mix. Fire that puppy up!
No more takeout for me
The result? Two words: Awe. Some.
It was great! Really, better than I expected for a first time recipe. And, a thumb of my nose at the article you (may have) read earlier…it was full-bodied in taste, too.
My “adjustments” to the recipe were those red pepper flakes I mentioned earlier and about a 1/4 cup more soy sauce than required. Tasty!
A chop off the old block
So, my venture into Chop Suey is an unqualified success.
As usual, the amount created leaves me with probably 7 or 8 more meals, with half of it going into the freezer.
Of course, that portion will be somewhat depleted, since Dad pre-ordered a helping of the Chop Suey when I first mentioned I would be cooking some up.
I expect he will appreciate the extra spicy flavor of it. After all, I’m a chop off the old block.