Tofu chop suey is a classic American Chinese dish that has become a favorite for many around the world. This vegan chop suey recipe features a thick sauce, is packed with nutritious ingredients, as well as crispy and flavorful tofu. Combined with a colorful array of vegetables, all cooked in a delicious sauce just like this Chinese jackfruit recipe.
🌟 Why this recipe works
Delicious and nutritious - vegan chop suey is so delicious! It is packed full with fresh veggies that are so healthy, like carrots, mushrooms and bean sprouts.
Quick and easy - it only takes around 15 minutes to make, needs very little prep time and only needs simple stir frying on a high heat. It's a very easy recipe that's not complicated at all. Just serve with rice noodles or brown rice (or even cauliflower rice) for an easy main or serve as a side dish with Singapore noodles or nasi goreng.
Perfect for using fridge leftovers - tofu chop suey is a fantastic fridge raid meal! It is great for using up whatever vegetables are in the fridge, but we picked carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts and bok choy. It also works great with baby corn, bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms and green beans. Chop suey translates to 'odds and ends', so that means it really is a great meal for using up remaining odds and ends out of the fridge!
🥬 What is chop suey?
Chop suey is a dish that originated from China, but it has become popular in many parts of the world, especially in the United States. It's a staple dish in Chinese restaurants around the world.
The term "chop suey" literally means "odds and ends" in Cantonese and "assorted pieces" in Mandarin. Both refer to the combination of different ingredients that make up the dish.
The dish usually consists of a variety of vegetables, such as bean sprouts, cabbage, celery, carrots, and onions, as well as a type of meat (but we're making a vegan version here!). These ingredients are typically stir-fried together with a savory stir fry sauce made from soy sauce, oyster sauce, and other seasonings.
Unlike chow mein noodles, tofu chop suey is often served over rice or noodles. The rice or noodles should not be mixed in the wok with the stir fry sauce, but served on the side. This is how it would be served in a Chinese restaurant. If the noodles are added to the wok, the dish would become the Chinese-American type of chow mein.
There are many variations of chop suey, depending on the region and the cultural influences. For example, in the United States, chop suey is often associated with Chinese-American cuisine. However, it may include ingredients such as bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and canned mushrooms that are not commonly used in traditional Chinese cooking.
In a vegan or vegetarian version, the meat is often replaced with tofu or other plant-based proteins, like soy curls. The starch thickened sauce can also be made vegan by using vegetable broth instead of chicken or beef broth, and by omitting oyster sauce or using a vegan substitute.
Overall, just like chow mein, chop suey is a versatile and delicious dish that has become a beloved part of many cultural cuisines around the world, just like this Thai cashew stir fry.
Tofu - use super firm tofu for this tofu chop suey. You can optionally use pan fried tofu, air fry or deep fry it before adding to the vegan chop suey, or just use fried tofu like us (we start by frying the tofu off). Alternatively, tofu puffs or even soy curls will also work well.
Vegetables - chop suey is a dish that is traditionally made with leftovers, so you can use whatever fresh vegetables you have in the fridge! Try using red bell peppers, baby corn or snow peas for a great variation on the stir fried vegetables.
Soy sauce - it brings that delicious umami, salty taste that is synonymous with Chinese cuisine. Don't worry if you haven't got soy sauce in the cupboard, try these soy sauce substitutes! It's a key ingredient for vegan chop suey sauce though, so try not to skip it!
Cornstarch - or cornflour for us Brits. Corn starch is what makes a thickened sauce. Start by making the cornstarch mixture, then add the rest of the ingredients like the soy sauce, white pepper and vegetarian oyster sauce (or mushroom stir fry sauce). Alternatively, potato starch can be used. The stir fry sauce is what takes this vegetable chop suey recipe up a notch, so try not to skip any ingredients!
Vegan oyster sauce - also known as mushroom sauce, it has a rich umami flavor and a smooth, velvety consistency. You may need to pop to an oriental supermarket to find this ingredient. We really recommend using it in vegan chop suey - the stir fry sauce won't be the same without it!
🔪 How to make vegan chop suey
This is a step-by-step overview with photos for making vegan chop suey with tofu. The full recipe, along with measurements and detailed instructions can be found in the recipe card below.
1. Start by mixing the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the cornflour and 2 tablespoons of the water with a spoon, fork or whisk until smooth.
2. Add the remaining water and sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside.
3. Next, place the sliced onion into the wok and fry for a couple of minutes until softened, then add the minced garlic for 30 seconds.
4. Next pop in the tofu and fry for a couple of minutes.
5. Chuck the mushrooms in and fry for another minute, followed by the carrots for two more minutes. Make sure to stir constantly.
6. Pop in the bok choy (or baby bok choy), cook for one minute, then throw in the beansprouts for another minute.
7. Pour the sauce over and keep on a high heat for another minute. Just until the sauce is hot and has thickened (the corn flour will thicken it up quickly on the heat). Make sure to be stirring constantly.
8. Serve with rice or noodles, optionally top with chilli flakes, sesame seeds and green onions.
👩🍳 Expert tips & substitutions
Shaoxing wine - a classic ingredient for chop suey sauce! Shaoxing wine has a complex and nutty flavor with hints of caramel, a subtle sweetness and has a sour aftertaste. It's also known as Chinese cooking wine. Rice vinegar (a.k.a. rice wine vinegar) is a good substitute. Use half the amount because rice vinegar doesn't have the same sweetness, and it's more sour.
Vegetables for chop suey - vegan chop suey can be made with a variety of vegetables. It can honestly be made with whatever you have in the fridge! This vegetable chop suey recipe uses baby corn and carrots, but we also recommend trying it with red bell pepper, snow peas or an assortment of leftover vegetables.
Vegetarian /vegan oyster sauce – vegetable chop suey needs to use vegetarian oyster sauce (AKA mushroom stir fry sauce) to get the right flavor!
Vegan protein - any vegan protein can be used in this vegan chop suey recipe. We've made a tofu chop suey, but you can also use tofu puffs, tempeh, soy curls or vegan chicken pieces.
Storage - leftover vegan chop suey can be kept in an airtight container for three days in the fridge. Then heated until piping hot and served with rice noodles or steamed rice. This recipe does freeze well, but it is best eaten fresh.
It means 'odds and ends' in Cantonese and it's basically the perfect recipe for using up whatever leftover veggies are in the fridge.
As long as the vegetable chop suey is made with all vegan ingredients - vegan oyster sauce and vegetable stock, then it should be vegan! If ordering in or eating out, check with the Chinese restaurant just to double check.
An assortment of vegetables are in chop suey! It's known as a leftover dish, so whatever is in the fridge can be used. We like to use carrots, mushrooms, bean sprouts and bok choy.
🍛 Serving suggestions
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🥡 More vegan stir fry recipes
Vegan Tofu Chop Suey
For the stir fry:
- 400 g extra firm tofu
- 4 garlic cloves - minced
- ½ onion - roughly chopped
- 125 g mushrooms - white or chestnut
- 200 g carrot - peeled & sliced
- 200 g bok choy - cut into chunks
- 125 g bean sprouts
- 1 tbsp sesame oil - or vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- ½ cup water
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
- 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
- ⅛ tsp white pepper
- Start by mixing the sauce. In a small bowl, stir together the cornflour and 2 tablespoons of the water with a spoon, fork or whisk until smooth. Add the remaining water and sauce ingredients and stir to combine. Set aside.1 tbsp cornflour, ½ cup water, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce, 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine, ⅛ tsp white pepper
- Add a splash of sesame oil or vegetable oil to a wok or large frying pan and bring to a high heat. Pop in the tofu and fry until golden brown.400 g extra firm tofu, 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Next, place the sliced onion into the wok and fry for a couple of minutes until softened, then add the minced garlic for 30 seconds.½ onion, 4 garlic cloves
- Chuck the mushrooms in and fry for another minute, followed by the carrots for two more minutes. Make sure to stir constantly.125 g mushrooms, 200 g carrot
- Pop in the bok choy (or baby bok choy), cook for one minute, then throw in the beansprouts for another minute.200 g bok choy, 125 g bean sprouts
- Pour the sauce over and keep on a high heat for another minute until the sauce is hot and has thickened (the corn flour will thicken it up quickly on the heat). Make sure to be stirring constantly. If you'd like a thinner sauce, add in a tablespoon of water.
- Serve with cooked rice or noodles, optionally top with chilli flakes, sesame seeds and green onions.
- Try mixing up the fresh veggies by using a red bell pepper, green bell pepper, Chinese broccoli or green beans.
- The vegan protein can be mixed up - instead of tofu, try tempeh or vegan chicken pieces.
- Make it gluten free by switching soy sauce for tamari, and making sure the vegan oyster sauce is gluten free too,
- A lot of recipes use vegetable broth instead of water, we didn't think the flavor needed it.
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