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Monday, February 23, 2015

Chop Suey inspired by Lady and the Tramp | #FoodnFlix

Chop Suey
For this month's edition of Food 'n Flix, we are watching a beloved oldie, Lady and the Tramp. Since it was made in 1955, pretty much everybody I know, from my mom's generation to my kid's generation, grew up watching Walt Disney's Lady and the Tramp. I don't own it on dvd, but I do have it on tape (that would be a VCR tape for you young-uns) know the one that all the Disney movies used to come in—big, white, heaven forbid you stepped on a corner or you'd never be able to close it again? This month was the first time I'd actually watched it in quite a few years, though; while I do still have one of those dvd/vcr combo players, I don't dare actually put a tape in it, because it's old and hungry.

Tramp rolling Lady the last meatball
So, everybody knows the story of the unlikely romance between the posh cocker spaniel and the rough-around-the-edges mutt from the other side of the tracks. And I'm guessing that when you think of food in the movie, you think of spaghetti and meatballs. I mean, that is the classic scene—it even graces the most modern movie cover and poster. It's the inspiration for lovebirds sharing a plate of spaghetti worldwide. Although, my favorite part of that particular scene is when Tramp pushes a meatball towards Lady with his nose.

That said, I decided against making a "spaghetti special, heavy on the meatballs". Instead, I decided to watch the movie again with new eyes...eyes on the look-out for a different avenue of inspiration. Turns out, there are quite a few hidden gems. Do you remember when Jim Dear pours coffee into a saucer, then gives it to Lady along with a doughnut? How about the Siamese cats scene? That happens to be one of my favorites. I toyed with the idea of making cat treats that included milk powder (until I found out for the first time in 39 years that milk is not good for cats; no wonder they love it) or fish (remember the goldfish?).

There was also the scene in the junkyard in which the Tramp is fighting off the mean strays, and they knock over barrels of potatoes and cabbage. I don't know why there were barrels of food in the junkyard, but... There were also crates full of cabbage in the alley behind Tony's restaurant. Do you remember Tramp's nickname for Lady? He called her Pidgeon, or Pidge. That was an option, but pidgeon isn't really readily available around these parts.
Chop Suey
Then there was the walking tour that Tramp took Lady on, showing her his different homes for each day of the week. He had wienerschnitzel on Mondays and corned beef on Tuesdays. And of course, I could have roasted some bones and served up some silky marrow or made some killer beef stock.

But what I wound up taking inspiration from was a scene early on that I'll call "the pregnancy cravings scene". We see the clock downstairs strike 3:00 (that would be a.m.) as Jim Dear fumbles down the stairs in his pajamas, trying to put on a coat and scarf, and he's got golashes on his feet. Lady watches him curiously as he opens the door and nearly gets blown away by a raging winter storm outside.
Jim Dear coming downstairs to answer Darling's pregnancy craving requests
He comes back in, closes the door, and then Jim Dear yells up the stairs...

"Darling, are you sure you want watermelon?"

"Mmm Hmmm. Oh, and some chop suey, too!"

"All right, darling."

So, since I can't remember ever making...or even eating...chop suey before, that had to be my Lady and the Tramp-insired dish! 

Chop Suey
An American-Chinese dish loaded with assorted veggies and pork in a savory sauce, then tossed with noodles or served over rice.
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Chop Suey
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Keywords: stir-fry entree dairy-free nut-free pork vegetables Chinese

Ingredients (serves 6-8)
    for the meat and marinade:
    • 1 to 1-1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
    • 3 garlic cloves, minced or grated
    • 1/2" piece of fresh ginger, minced or grated
    • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
    • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
    • 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
    • big pinch of crushed red chile flakes
    • big pinch of sea salt
    for the veggies:
    • ~3 tablespoons cooking oil (vegetable, corn, olive, coconut)
    • 8 ounces bok choy, cut into 1/4" slices
    • 8 ounces mushrooms, cut into 1/4" slices
    • 4 ounces snow peas, cut into 1/4" slices
    • 4 ounces tiny broccoli florets
    • 4 ounces julienned carrots
    • 2 ounces sliced water chestnuts, drained
    • 2 ounces sliced bamboo shoots, drained
    • 2 small bell peppers (different colors), cut into 1/4" slices
    • 1 tiny onion, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/4" slices
    for the sauce:
    • 1/4 cup chicken stock
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
    • 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
    everything else:
    • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
    • 8 ounces uncooked Lo Mein noodles
    • 1 cup chow mein noodles
    Rinse the pork tenderloin and pat it dry. Slice it crosswise into 1/4-inch coins, then cut the coins into 1/4-inch strips. Place the pork strips in a medium bowl or zippered baggie. Whisk together the marinade ingredients, then pour over the pork. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes (refrigerate if marinating longer than 45 minutes).

    Have all of your vegetables cut and ready in one large, or several smaller bowls. Have one large empty bowl sitting next to the stove. Put a pot of water on to boil for the noodles.

    Heat a tablespoon of oil over high heat in a wok. Once it is hot and shimmering, add about a third of the vegetables to the wok. Stir-fry until they just start to turn tender, 2-3 minutes. Pour the veggies into the large empty bowl. Repeat process two more times, until remaining veggies are just tender.
    making Chop Suey using #OXOCookware 12-inch wok
    Stir together all the ingredients for the sauce; set aside.

    Set the wok back over high heat and another tablespoon of oil. Once super hot, pour in the pork and all of the marinade. Stir-fry until cooked through, 3-4 minutes. Add the dry sherry to the wok and let it bubble for 2 minutes.

    Slide the veggies back into the wok and toss with the pork. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the reserved sauce mixture. Bring it to a boil and let it bubble for 1-2 minutes before stirring and tossing everything together, making sure everything is coated with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed; remove from heat.

    In the meantime, drop the noodles into water and cook for 4 minutes (or according to package directions). Drain the noodles, and then add them to the wok, tossing once more to combine.

    Scatter the chow mein noodles on top, and then serve immediately. (You could also skip the Lo Mein noodles, and serve the dish over cooked rice.)
    Chop Suey
    Food 'n Flix Club LogoThis month's Food 'n Flix host is Elizabeth at The Lawyer's Cookbook, with her pick, Lady and the Tramp. If you'd like to join us this month, the due date to get your posts up and submitted to her is February 26. For more information, check out her announcement post!

    If you'd like to join us next month, we'll be watching The Quiet Man (another oldie, this one from 1952, with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara set in Ireland - it is March after all!), as chosen by our March host, Joanne from What's on the List?.