Last Updated on January 13, 2024
Poor Man’s chop suey is a classic Chinese-American dish that has been around for generations. It is a simple dish with a few ingredients that are usually readily available. It is a great way to stretch a few ingredients into a delicious meal. It can be enjoyed as a main dish, a side dish, or as a snack. Poor man’s chop suey is a great way to feed a family on a budget without sacrificing flavor.
What is Poor Man’s Chop Suey?
“Poor Man’s Chop Suey” is a humble and budget-friendly dish that originated as a simplified version of the more elaborate and traditional Chinese-American chop suey. The name itself suggests a frugal approach to preparing a flavorful and satisfying meal with basic, affordable ingredients.
The dish is made with ground pork, onion, celery, and bean sprouts, all cooked in a savory sauce. It is a budget-friendly dish that is easy to make and can feed many people. The ingredients are usually inexpensive and readily available. The dish is a variation of the classic Chinese dish called “chop suey”, which means “mixed pieces” in Cantonese.
What Does It Taste Like?
Poor Man’s chop suey is a savory dish that is slightly sweet and has a rich umami flavor. The ground pork adds a depth of flavor, while the celery and bean sprouts add crunch and texture. The sauce is slightly sweet and savory, and it helps to bring all of the flavors together.
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- Ground Beef:Ground beef is a primary source of protein in the poor man’s chop suey, providing substance and a savory flavor to the dish. Its affordability makes it suitable for a budget-friendly recipe.
- Sugar:Sugar is used to add a touch of sweetness to the dish, balancing the flavors. It can complement the savory notes of the ground beef and soy sauce, enhancing the overall taste.
- Green Cabbage:Green cabbage contributes texture and bulk to the chop suey. It is a cost-effective vegetable that, when cooked, absorbs the flavors of the other ingredients while maintaining a satisfying crunch.
- Cornstarch:Cornstarch serves as a thickening agent in the recipe. It helps create a glossy and velvety sauce that coats the ingredients, providing a desirable consistency to the chop suey.
- Soy Sauce: Soy sauce is a crucial ingredient that imparts saltiness and umami to the dish. It is a key component in the stir-fry sauce, infusing the ground beef and cabbage with rich and savory flavors.
Step 1: Prepare the Ground Beef:
Begin by selecting a spacious skillet or wok for cooking. Over medium-high heat, cook the ground beef until it transforms into a rich, even brown color. The goal is to break it into small, uniform crumbles, ensuring each piece is cooked thoroughly for a consistent texture.
Step 2: Drain Excess Fat:
Once the ground beef has achieved its desired doneness, it’s crucial to drain any excess fat from the skillet. This step not only reduces the overall fat content of the dish but also contributes to a lighter and healthier outcome.
Step 3: Add Sugar:
To impart a subtle sweetness to the dish, sprinkle an appropriate amount of sugar over the cooked ground beef. Ensure you mix it well, allowing the sugar to evenly distribute and infuse its flavor throughout the dish.
Step 4: Prepare Cabbage:
Prepare the green cabbage by cutting it into thin strips or shreds. It’s essential to wash and drain the cabbage thoroughly before introducing it into the skillet, ensuring it’s clean and ready for cooking.
Step 5: Add Cabbage to the Skillet:
Incorporate the freshly shredded cabbage into the skillet with the ground beef. Use your utensil to stir the mixture, promoting the integration of flavors and ingredients.
Step 6: Cook Cabbage:
Continue cooking the cabbage and ground beef combination over medium heat. The objective is to achieve the desired tenderness in the cabbage. Stir the mixture occasionally to ensure an even cooking process and the proper melding of flavors.
Step 7: Mix Cornstarch and Soy Sauce:
In a separate small bowl, create a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with soy sauce. This step is essential for thickening the sauce and adding a layer of complexity to the dish.
Step 8: Add Soy Sauce Mixture:
Pour the soy sauce mixture into the skillet, ensuring it is uniformly distributed. This step contributes to enhancing the overall flavor profile of the dish, creating a delicious and savory sauce.
Step 9: Simmer:
Allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes. This gentle simmering period is crucial for allowing the flavors to meld, and the sauce to achieve a slightly thicker consistency, creating a more cohesive and flavorful dish.
Step 10: Taste and Adjust:
Take a moment to taste the dish and make any necessary adjustments to the seasoning. If needed, add more soy sauce or sugar based on your individual taste preferences, ensuring the perfect balance of flavors.
Step 11: Serve:
Once the cabbage has reached the desired level of tenderness and the flavors are well-balanced, remove the skillet from heat, preparing the dish for serving.
Step 12: Plate and Enjoy:
Serve this delightful Poor Man’s Chop Suey over a bed of rice or noodles. Embrace the simplicity and budget-friendly nature of this dish, savoring both its satisfying qualities and rich flavor!
• For a spicier version, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
• For a vegetarian version, substitute the ground pork with crumbled tofu.
• For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free soy sauce and oyster sauce.
• For a vegan version, substitute the ground pork with crumbled tempeh.
• For a healthier version, use low-sodium soy sauce and skip the oyster sauce.
One serving of poor man’s chop suey contains approximately 300 calories, 11g of fat, 24g of carbohydrates, and 17g of protein.
What to Serve With Poor Man’s Chop Suey?
• White or brown rice
• Steamed vegetables
• Egg rolls
• Spring rolls
• Fried dumplings
• Baked tofu
• Steamed buns
How to Store Leftover Poor Man’s Chop Suey?
Leftover poor man’s chop suey can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat until warmed through.
What Other Substitutes Can I Use in Poor Man’s Chop Suey?
• Ground beef or turkey
• Bell peppers
• Bamboo shoots
• Water chestnuts
- Measuring cups
- 2 Pounds of Ground Beef the savory star of the dish
- 2 Tablespoons of Sweet Nectar Sugar
- 2 Heads of Verdant Green Cabbage the leafy embrace
- 2 Tablespoons of Cornstarch the culinary alchemist’s secret
- 1 Cup of Umami-Rich Soy Sauce
- In a large skillet or wok, cook the ground beef over medium-high heat until browned. Break it into small crumbles as it cooks.
- Once the ground beef is cooked, drain any excess fat from the skillet.
- Sprinkle the sugar over the cooked ground beef. Stir well to incorporate the sugar evenly.
- Cut the heads of green cabbage into thin strips or shred them. Ensure they are washed and well-drained.
- Add the shredded cabbage to the skillet with the ground beef. Stir to combine.
- Cook the cabbage and ground beef mixture over medium heat until the cabbage is wilted and tender. Stir occasionally to ensure even cooking.
- Mix the cornstarch with soy sauce until the cornstarch is dissolved, creating a slurry.
- Pour the soy sauce mixture over the cabbage and beef. Stir well to coat the ingredients and create a flavorful sauce.
- Allow the mixture to simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld and the sauce to thicken slightly.
- Taste the dish and adjust the seasoning if necessary. You can add more soy sauce or sugar according to your taste preferences.
- Once the cabbage is cooked to your liking and the flavors are well-balanced, remove the skillet from heat.
- Serve the Poor Man’s Chop Suey over rice or noodles. Enjoy this simple and budget-friendly dish!
- For a spicier version, add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
- For a vegetarian version, substitute the ground pork with crumbled tofu.
- For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free soy sauce and oyster sauce.
- For a vegan version, substitute the ground pork with crumbled tempeh.
- For a healthier version, use low-sodium soy sauce and skip the oyster sauce.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is Poor Man’s chop suey gluten-free?
A: Yes, if you use a gluten-free soy sauce and oyster sauce, it will be gluten-free.
Q: Is Poor Man’s chop suey vegan?
A: Yes, if you substitute the ground pork with crumbled tempeh, it will be vegan.
Q: Is poor man’s chop suey spicy?
A: No, it is not spicy, but add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a spicier version.
Q: Can I freeze poor man’s chop suey?
A: Yes, it can be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Q: What can I serve with poor man’s chop suey?
A: You can serve it with white or brown rice, steamed vegetables, egg rolls, spring rolls, fried dumplings, noodles, baked tofu, and steamed buns.
Q: Can I make poor man’s chop suey in a slow cooker?
A: Yes, you can make it in a slow cooker by adding all of the ingredients and cooking on low for 4-6 hours.
Q: Can I use other vegetables in Poor Man’s chop suey?
A: Yes, you can use mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, peas, broccoli, bell peppers, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts.
Poor Man’s chop suey is a classic Chinese-American dish that has been around for generations. It is a budget-friendly dish that is easy to make and can feed many people. The ingredients are usually inexpensive and readily available. The dish is a variation of the classic Chinese dish called “chop suey”, which means “mixed pieces” in Cantonese.
Poor Man’s chop suey is a savory dish that is slightly sweet and has a rich umami flavor. It is a great way to stretch a few ingredients into a delicious meal. It can be enjoyed as a main dish, a side dish, or as a snack. It is also a great way to feed a family on a budget without sacrificing flavor.
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Lori Walker is a passionate dietitian and food lover. She offers simple and nutritious recipes that don't take long to cook. In addition to sharing delicious dishes, she also shares useful advice on saving time and money in the kitchen. She believes that with a bit of creativity, anyone can make healthy meals that won't break the bank. Read more