Chop Suey with Pork Recipe by “Auntie” Nancy Story

In 1880 a small seaside amusement park was opened at the end of a willow-lined esplanade in nearby Salem, Massachusetts. Soon popular throughout the North Shore, Salem Willows (or “the Willows”) was famous for its flying-horse carousel, waterfront attractions, nationally known ballroom, and for its many pleasure garden festivities. For decades it was also recognized for its eminent Restaurant Row, an enormous Salem attraction whose celebrated eateries were lost, one at a time, in a series of fires.

By the 1950s and ‘60s many of the original Willows attractions had been replaced with arcades and children’s rides, still perfect for Woodman family outings when the kids were small.  And although the grand old restaurants had given way to take-out stands, at least one retains a venerable reputation in its own right, even today. Run by four generations of the same family, E. W. Hobbs has served its own flavored coated popcorn, salt-water taffy, and homemade ice cream since 1897.  In fact it is believed that New England’s first ice cream cone was served here in 1906.

woodmans pork chop sueyBut the biggest (after work) draw for many of Woodman’s “aunties” through the years was Salem Willow’s legendary chop suey sandwiches. Initially served at the venerated Chase’s Willow House restaurant (which went up in smoke in 1952), the cheap but filling sandwiches were subsequently sold from a chop suey wagon and can now be found at the Willow’s two (competing) Chinese takeout stands, served on hamburger buns and best eaten with a fork.

Chop Suey Ingredients

2 cups roast pork, cut into bite sized pieces
(can also use leftover chicken or beef)

4 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons butter, melted

2 cups white onions, chopped

2 cups celery, chopped

Cooking water

1 28-ounce can bean sprouts, or fresh
When using fresh, a 12-ounce bag may be enough. Experiment!

How to Make Chop Suey

Sauté the pork in the melted butter in a large skillet, but do not brown. Add the chopped onion and celery and just enough water to cover. Cook over low to medium heat, until vegetables are cooked but still crisp. In a separate bowl combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir and add the soy sauce. Add cornstarch mixture to pork and vegetables and bring to a low boil and cook until tender, stirring occasionally. Add the bean sprouts and return to a simmer to thicken the mixture. Serves 4.

Recipe Notes: This recipe can also be made with chicken or beef. Serve with white rice, Chinese chow-mein noodles, and crusty bread.

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