Slightly Chinese supper: Samoan chop suey

A couple of weekends ago, we spent a night in Amsterdam. Actually, Miranda spent four nights there, as she had to go for a few days for work (such a hardship), but Ash flew out on Saturday morning so we could have the weekend there together. We enjoyed exploring landmarks such as Wynand Fockink and the Cheese Museum: both foodie destinations, so probably no surprise there.

499 Wynand Fockink

500 Dressed up as cheese people

Of course, we had other gastronomic adventures at mealtimes, such as a traditional Dutch dinner at Restaurant Greetje and the famous appeltart at Winkel. Our final meal before flying home on the Sunday night was another Dutch speciality: rijstafel at Sampurna. Whilst the dishes in a ‘rice table’ are entirely Indonesian, the banquet-style service is apparently a Dutch invention, dating back to when Indonesia was a Dutch colony. Miranda had eaten a rijstafel before, Ash hadn’t – but the bottom line was that we certainly weren’t going to go to another country without taking every opportunity to eat as much food as possible. And there is certainly a lot of food in a rijstafel.

501 Rijstafel

But why are we talking about either The Netherlands or Indonesia when today’s dish is from Samoa? Well, it’s a slightly tenuous segue into the fact that what we made is not of entirely ‘traditional’ origins either, and has borrowed inspiration from a country that is certainly not a Pacific Island. Today we bring to you chop suey – known much more widely as being a Chinese dish, not a Samoan one. However, the plot thickens further, as apparently chop suey is much more prolific amongst Chinese Americans rather than in China itself. Either way, it’s also considered a national dish of Samoa, and the fact that it doesn’t contain any coconut immediately won points from Ash. Wikipedia tells us that a traditional chop suey is served with rice, but this recipe is with noodles. We tweaked the original recipe slightly and were also fairly approximate with our measurements.

Chop suey

Ingredients
125g vermicelli noodles
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 tbsp ginger, grated
150g beef mince
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup water
Additional 1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp ketjap manis
2 1/2 cups chopped vegetables (we used frozen mixed veg, but you could use whatever you have)
1/2 chicken stock cube, crumbled

Method
1. In a large pan, fry the onion, garlic and ginger until the onion is translucent over a medium/high heat.
2. Add and fry the meat for about two minutes – it just needs to be seared.
3. Add the 1 tbsp soy sauce and water and let it simmer over a medium heat for about five minutes.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the noodles as per the packet instructions (usually this means putting them in a bowl and covering them with boiling water, then letting them stand until soft and pliable).
5. Snip the noodles so that each strand is short.
6. Add the noodles to the pan, along with 1/2 cup of the water from the noodles.
7. Add the remaining ingredients, stir, and let simmer over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
Serves 2 generously.

502a Onion for chop suey compressed

504a Chop suey compressed

505a Chop suey compressed

506a Chop suey compressed

Given the amount of soy sauce in this recipe, as well as the ketjap manis and chicken stock, we were apprehensive that it might be incredibly salty – especially Miranda, who doesn’t add salt to anything. However, somehow it managed to balance out, and wasn’t too overpowering. We were thirsty later that night, but not that awful kind of thirst where you feel like your throat is going to shrivel up. What we actually experienced was a tasty, very easy meal, that didn’t overdo it with the meat (beef, of course, comes at a premium in the Pacific island nations) but still carried enough of a beefy flavour. Considering we always have all of these ingredients in our kitchen, this could easily become a mid-week regular.

Next up is Wallis and Futuna Islands. We have actually already made this dish, just haven’t written it up yet, so it shouldn’t be too far away!

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2 thoughts on “Slightly Chinese supper: Samoan chop suey

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