How are American Chop Suey and Similar Dishes Different?

American Chop Suey is a famous American Chinese cuisine; however, it is always confused with other similar dishes. There are also many versions of where this dish originated. Some say it was brought to America by Chinese migrants in the late 1800s, while others claim it originated in the U.S.

Here are some dishes like American Chop Suey and find out the difference between them.

American Chop Suey Vs. Chinese Chop Suey

The difference between Chinese Chop Suey and American Chop suey is that the former is a mix of meat, eggs, and vegetables bound in thick sauce served with rice and noodles. However, the American Chop Suey is a pasta dish, representing the Italian American cooking style.

Chinese Chop Suey uses eggs, meat from chicken, fish, beef, prawns, or pork and vegetables such as bean sprouts, cabbage, and celery. At the same time, the American Chop Suey’s main ingredients are elbow macaroni, cooked ground beef, sauteed onions, green peppers, and tomato sauce.

The ingredients used in both dishes are distinctively different. However, the American Chop Suey got its name because it mixes meat, vegetables, and seasonings like the traditional Chinese Chop Suey.

The two dishes also taste different. The Chinese Chop Suey is spicy and savory, while the American version is sweet and sour.

American Chop Suey Vs. Chow Mein

Chow mein

Chow Mein is another Chinese dish like Chop Suey, originating in northern China. The name means stir-fried noodles. Unlike the American Chop Suey, in cooking Chow Mein, the noodles are cooked and then added to other ingredients and cooked together in one pan.

There are many variations of this Chinese dish, and several methods of stir-frying the noodles and range of toppings used. Sometimes tofu is used instead of meat. And the recipe was introduced by Chinese migrants to different parts of the world.

The chow mein served in many American Chinese restaurants no longer follows the original recipe of the authentic Chinese dish of stir-fried vegetables and boiled noodles to make it more appealing to Western tastes.

The two main types of Chow mien in American Chinese restaurants are; the steamed chow mien and crispy chow mien. The noodles of the steamed chow mein have a softer texture, while the other is crisper and dried. The crispy chow mein uses fried flat noodles, while the soft chow mein uses long rounded noodles.

American Chop Suey Vs. Lo Mein

American style Lo mein

Like Chow Mien, Lo Mien originated in northern China and is a famous American Chinese dish. The preparation of Lo mein involves tossing the noodles, hence the name which means “tossed noodles.”

Lo mein is easy to cook; while the noodles boil, the cook also prepares other ingredients such as protein, vegetables, and sauce separately. Once ready, all the ingredients are tossed together, and when all ingredients are well mixed, the dish is good to serve. Sometimes peanut butter is added to make the sauce.

In China, Lo Mein uses thin flour-and-egg noodles, known for their elastic texture.

Cantonese lo mein is an egg noodle with thin sauce added with wonton or beef brisket as toppings. In contrast, Lo Mein noodles in the U.S. are usually stir-fried with a sauce made from soy sauce and other seasonings. American Chinese restaurants also mix vegetables such as Chinese cabbage in meats like roast pork, beef, or chicken. Different variations of this dish are shrimp lo mein, lobster lo mein, vegetable lo mein, and “house” lo mein, where more than one meat is sometimes available.

American Chop Suey Vs. Goulash

Goulash serving

The American Chop Suey is sometimes called American goulash or Johnny Marzetti. However, even if the American chop suey is like the traditional goulash, they are not the same. It is more of a ground beef and macaroni casserole or pasta dish instead of a soup or stew.

Goulash is a Hungarian stew made of meats, potatoes, carrots, paprika, and other spices. Its name comes from the Hungarian word “gulyás,” which means a herd of cattle, and the herdsmen were called gulyás. It is more of a stew and does not include noodles. And instead of thickened starch, they concentrate it with lots of meat and vegetables. In contrast, American chop suey is ground beef, macaroni, onions, green peppers, and tomato sauce.

Nutritional Facts

Although these dishes may have similarities, their nutritional profiles are varied. Here are the details on the nutrition of chop suey, chow mein, lo mein, and goulash.

One serving of American Chop Suey has approximately 474.2 calories, 80.0 g cholesterol, 57.2 carbohydrates, and 33.2 g of protein. 

On the other hand, Chow Mein is a healthier option containing 240 calories, 14 grams of fat, and 26 grams of carbohydrates in one serving (56 grams). 

As for lo mein, although the noodles are the same as chow mein, the difference in the preparation method resulted in different nutritional properties. Fifty-six grams of lo mein contains 237 calories with 125 calories from fat, 13.8 grams of fat, and 25.9 grams of carbohydrates.

Goulash, with beef, noodles or macaroni, tomato base (1 cup) contains 275 calories, 55g carbohydrates, 7.9 g fat, and 16.5 protein.