Sunday, 7 September 2014

Hamburger Chop Suey

This "budget cuisine" dish was invented by one of our mothers back in the 1970s. Bean sprouts were not readily available in many Canadian grocery stores in those days, so being an inventive cook, she substituted shredded cabbage for bean sprouts. Of course, it tastes equally delicious with actual FRESH bean sprouts or a combination of the two. Just whatever you do, avoid the canned bean sprouts. They are very high in sodium, taste terrible (like the inside of the can) and have the texture of mush. Not to mention, they're expensive as all get out. 

Cabbage has the advantage of being readily available, inexpensive and it stores well over a period of time.


2 Tbsp oil
1 medium onion chopped, about 1 cup
2 stalks celery –finely chopped
2 tsp minced fresh ginger or ½ teaspoon ground ginger powder
2 cloves garlic – or ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)
1 lb (450 g) lean ground beef (or use a combination of ground beef and ground pork)
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp soy sauce – we used sodium reduced
2 Tbsp corn starch
2 cup beef stock
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
Water chestnuts – 1 small can, rinsed and drained (optional)
Bean sprouts – 3 large handfuls or substitute with finely shredded cabbage (about 6 cups)

Other additions you might enjoy:
Green or red pepper
Shredded carrots
Shredded zucchini 

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium high heat, cook the ground beef until it is brown, breaking up the larger chunks.
  2. Add the onion and celery and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. If using fresh ginger and garlic, add it now and cook for another minute or two.
  3. Stir in the molasses and soy sauce and half (1 cup) of the stock.. If using dried garlic and ginger, stir it in with the beef broth, then add to the cooked ground beef. If using shredded cabbage, add it now and allow to cook for a minute or so to soften.
  4. Dissolve the cornstarch in remaining stock and add to the pan. Stir and cook until thickened.
  5. If using the water chestnuts and bean sprouts, add them now and cook for another minutes The bean sprouts should maintain some crunch.
  6. Spoon over rice and serve.


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