Friday, 29 March 2013

Vegan Sapasui (Tofu & Broccolini Chop Suey)

At first when I was challenged to feature Samoan food I was a bit unsure if I would find enough recipes to feature. I wasn't sure until I read about Sapasui. Yep, it doesn't look very Samoan. Infact what is it is "Chop Suey". You might think I'm clutching at straws by featuring this as a Samoan dish, but I have been told that chop suey is so popular in Samoa that it is now considered something of a traditional dish.

Most websites will tell you that chop suey is prominent in Samoa because of Chinese influences, but this confused me because I'd always thought that chop suey was an American Chinese dish. I can tell you that I lived in China for a year, and they don't eat chop suey there! I never saw chop suey anywhere I travelled in China or even in South East Asia. The only time I've ever seen it on the menu is when I was travelling in Sri Lanka - they often had it in the 'foreign foods' section of the menu along with the spaghetti bolognese. 

So I was confused as to why chop suey made it's way into Samoan culture, and then I read about the American influence in Samoa. Infact, one of the islands that makes up Samoa is called "American Samoa". So, it'd like to dispel some internet misinformation and let you know that chop suey is not a Chinese dish! It's an American Chinese dish, and, apparently - a Samoan staple!

However it got to Samoa, it was nice to find it because it made a bit of a change from the coconut everything I was making for every other dish. Traditionally chop suey is made with minced pork or beef and a variety of vegetables with noodles. In the place of mined meat, I've used a delicious "minced" tofu - which came out strikingly similar to the real thing and was a big success. 

One more quick note before I get to the tasty point - recipes vary as to whether or not you should chop up the noodles into shorter lengths before cooking. Some day do it, some say definitely don't do it! I didn't chop mine up, because I like long noodles, but then I cooked them for a minute or two too long and they broke up a bit anyway. So I guess it is all means to the same end!


Tofu 'Mince'
400g hard tofu
1 tsp vegan beef stock powder (such as Massel)
1/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp soy sauce

150g mung bean vermicelli (sometimes also called cellophane or glass noodles)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2cm piece of ginger, grated
1 celery stick, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 Chinese cabbage, sliced
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 2cm lengths
1/2 cup vegan beef stock
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp ketcap manis

To Make
1. Crumble the tofu into a bowl. Stir the stock powder into the 1/4 cup hot water and add the soy sauce. Stir this through the crumbled tofu and set aside to absorb the flavour.
2. Remove the noodles from the packet and soak in cold water (for about 10-15 minutes, while you get the rest of the dish together).
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large wok. Add the onion, ginger and garlic. Sauté until the onion is cooked.
4. Add the marinated crumbled tofu and any remaining liquid in the bowl. Cook until any liquid is dissolved, at least 5 minutes.
5. Add all the vegetables and the beef stock, soy sauce and ketcap manis. Simmer until the vegetables are just tender and the liquid has reduced to about half.
6. Drain the noodles that you've been soaking in cold water and chuck them in the wok. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes until the noodles are cooked and hopefully by this stage you shouldn't have too much liquid left in the wok. I recommend serving immediately - if you leave it hot in the wok the noodles will overcook and break up a lot (not that this matters very much!).

In other news, I've been nominated in the Australian Writers' Centre People's Choice Award in the Best Blogs 2013 competition! Unfortunately it is very much a contest in social media popularity - so I really need your help!

To vote hit this button to the right and then click the "vote here" button. Then scroll through the 5 pages of nominated blogs, Gormandize is on the second page. You 'll need to scroll through all the pages and then fill out your details at the end to make your vote count. Thank you for your support! 

This month I'm featuring lots of delicious food from Samoa.
Check out my other recipe posts:


  1. Polynesian Supasui usually has a dark carmel color with a scent of garlic and ginger. This has a intersting take. I have never known a food write to take an interest into the Samoan food culture. I like your articles.

    1. Thanks for your comment! It's good to get some feedback. Do you know how they get the darker caramel colour? Perhaps I should have added more kecap manis. Thanks for stopping by and glad you enjoyed my Samoan posts! :)

  2. I read in a Wikipedia article on chop suey that it had its origins in Canton in the 1900's. It was in an area where many of the early Chinese immigrants to the US lived and it was called tsap seui. My mom is Samoan and about 70 years old. She said that it was introduced in Samoa by a wave of Chinese immigrants that moved there in the 1800's. She balked at the idea that it was due to American influence. :) I'm not familiar with ketcap manis, but the dark color of the noodles does come from soy sauce...and lots of it. Every family puts their own twist on this dish. My mom never uses ginger in this particular dish, but I know other people do. My mom also uses cabbage and carrots as vegetables, but I've seen frozen corn, peas, and carrots. Thank you for taking an interest in Samoan cuisine. That's so awesome! :)

    1. Sorry. I meant 19th century--in the 1800's, not 1900's.