By Sangeeta Pradhan
INDIA New England Columnist
Here is a nutritious recipe for a complete meal on a plate: American Chop suey, Indian style.
Yield: 9, 1 cup servings
Nutrition insight: Bursting with flavor and color from phytonutrients, this dish offers all the major food groups to make a complete vegan meal. The bean sprouts are the key source of protein, the high fiber noodles offer whole grains that help provide a sustained source of energy, the peanut oil provides healthful, mono unsaturated fats and there is no dearth of antioxidants and fiber from the plentiful vegetables in this dish. You can stretch this dish by adding 3-4 oz of grilled chicken to individual servings if desired.
Personal musings: I’m not sure how and why this Indo-Chinese fusion dish got it’s name. However, I can tell you it brings back fond memories of eating a mouth-watering, steaming hot bowl of the dish on a rainy day at one of the ubiquitous Chinese restaurants that line the streets of Mumbai. As a young child, I marveled at how my mom, a very skilled cook, was able to as if by magic, dish up a version that came pretty close. However, the recipe that follows is an adaptation of one created by my aunt, Mrs. Anjali Gupte, a veteran chef, who has been conducting cooking classes in Mumbai for almost 40 years.
Ingredients for the Chop suey
- 3 cups cooked, high fiber whole wheat noodles (or angel hair pasta)
- 3 cups sprouted mung beans (see directions to sprout mung beans below, or substitute bean sprouts from your local grocery)
- 2 cups green beans cut into about 1.5″ long julienne strips
- 1.5 cups carrots, peeled and cut into 1.5-2” long julienne strips
- 1.5 cups yellow cabbage, shredded
- 1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion thinly sliced.
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste ( recipe follows)
- 3 tbsp peanut oil
- ½ tsp salt or to taste
Ingredients for the sauce:
- 1 cup or 8 oz of organic ( or regular) vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup rice vine vinegar
- 5 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 2 tbsp Sriracha hot chili sauce
- 1 tbsp soy sauce ( low sodium recommended)
- 1 tsp sugar or to taste
- ¼ tsp salt or to taste
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
To make the Chop suey:
- Heat peanut oil to medium high heat in a large (I used an 8 quart) thick bottomed or non stick pan.
- Add the ginger garlic paste, stir briskly for ½ a minute or so.
- Add sliced onions and sauté for a few minutes until soft and translucent.
- Start adding the vegetables in batches to allow uniform cooking. Start with the green beans and stir fry these for a few minutes. Sprinkle a tbsp or two of water, turn the heat down a little, cover the pan with a lid and allow cooking another minute or so. Make sure that vegetables soften, but remain crisp tender with a slight bite to them.
- Now add carrots, stir fry for a couple of minutes, sprinkle a tbsp of water, cover with a lid for another minute
- Repeat the process with the bean sprouts
- Finally add the purple and yellow cabbage; sprinkle a scant tbsp of water, and a ½ tsp salt or per taste. Give the mixture in the pot a good stir, cover tightly and cook for 30-60 seconds until crisp-tender. Transfer vegetables from the pot on to a platter. Set aside.
To make the sauce for the Chop suey:
- Combine all ingredients except the cornstarch in the same large pan that was used to make the chop suey.
- Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer
- In the meantime, add 2 tbsp of water to the corn starch and whisk to form a smooth paste.
- Add blended corn starch to the pan, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon until sauce gets bubbly and begins to thicken
- Add vegetables that had been set aside, along with the whole wheat cooked noodles to the pot.
- Stir gently until vegetables and noodles are completely coated with the sauce.
- Transfer to a platter and serve hot, garnished with finely chopped scallions and strips of purple shredded cabbage if desired.
Ginger garlic paste:
- 1 medium sized garlic pod
- 3” piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- ½ cup or a palm full of fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
- Peel the garlic cloves in the pod.
- Puree ginger with the garlic, cilantro and about ¼ cup water in the jar of an electric blender until blended to a paste.
- Store chilled in a refrigerator in an airtight glass container for up to 2 weeks or so.
To sprout mung beans: Place mung beans in a bowl. Pour sufficient water over the beans to allow about a 1/2 an inch or slightly greater layer of water over the beans, thus completely submerging them. Leave at room temperature in a warm place. In about 8-16 hours, transfer the beans to a colander and allow all the water to drain. Discard water. Cover beans with a moist cheese cloth, leave in a warm place at room temperature and allow another 24 hours to pass to enable beans to sprout. Depending upon the temperature and humidity, mung beans will start sprouting within 8-24 hours of soaking them. Expect fully sprouted beans within 24 hours in warm weather, and up to 48 hours in cooler, drier weather. 1 cup of raw beans will swell up and likely triple after sprouting.
RD tip: Sprouted lentils pack the power of a germinating seed. Chock-full of nutrients which include some of the B vitamins, protein, potassium, magnesium, they pack a boatload of fiber as a mere ½ a cup of cooked beans can provide as much as 8 hefty grams of fiber. Because of the fiber accompaniment, mung beans and indeed, all lentils/beans are slowly digested by your body, thus adding to a sense of fullness and suppressing insulin spikes seen with rapidly metabolized carbs that trigger hunger later in the day. If you are serious about losing weight, toss rinsed, canned beans or steamed bean sprouts into a salad at lunch and you will notice that you do not get the 4 pm “snack attack” that may find you rifling through your kitchen cabinet (or vending machine) looking for a quick picker upper!
(Sangeeta Pradhan is the Diabetes Coordinator at Charles River Medical Associates, a physician practice group where she leads a team of Nurse Practitioners and a dietitian.”)