We get this one a lot. Chop suey is a dish made with meats and vegetables stir fried with bean sprouts.
The sprouts come from mung beans. In its raw form it has a fresh crisp texture with a sweet flavour. You’ll often find them served raw in Asian style salads.
We use bean sprouts in our egg rolls, egg foo young, Cozy wo-mein, lo mein and of course chop suey and chow mein.
Chow mein, is the chop suey dish with the addition of dry crunchy noodles. They soften up a bit after absorbing some of the sauce so you get fun textures of soft mixed with crunchy, in both the noodles and the vegetables and sprouts.
This is the distinction in the case of Canadian Chinese dishes in our region. If you were to order, for example, shrimp chow mein, in larger cities with a larger Asian community, you likely will get a stir fried noodle dish with actual noodles.
Hint: If you haven’t noticed, the word “mein”, pronounced “meing” or “mean”, means noodles. Chow is “stir-fry”.
It all makes sense now, doesn’t it?