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Chop Suey Soup (Chai Boey) is a much anticipated dish prepared after the Chinese New Year feast consisting of roast pork, mustard greens, and leftovers.
The Chinese New Year festivities would not be complete without this much awaited dish called Chai Boey which literally means leftovers. This is a tangy dish of mustard greens boiled with leftover meats and vegetables. We fondly call it Chop Suey in our family. There is no specific recipe and the taste may differ slightly each time. It depends on what is leftover from the feasts of the previous days.
Although we call this soup Chop Suey, do not mistake this for the US stir fry dish. The idea however, is similar in that a mix of ingredients are used. Chop Suey in the USe is cooked with meats, celery, cabbage, bean sprouts, and noodles in a starch-thickened sauce typically served with rice. Chai Boey on the other hand is a tangy and spicy soup.
Leftovers In Chop Suey Soup (Chai Boey)
While some families will dump in all their leftovers, Mom is more selective in what she puts into this soup. Siew Yoke (Roast Pork Belly) is a must as it provides the fat to moisten the mustard greens. The only other leftover she will include is the Jiu Hu Char from which my Warm Jicama and Cabbage Salad is based on. Instead of shrimps, Jiu Hu Char has pork, cuttlefish, and mushrooms in it.
If you do not have leftover roast pork belly, please check out my quick and easy Pan Fried Crispy Pork Belly. You can prepare this quick version crispy pork belly in 40 minutes and it is perfect for this Chai Boey.
Pickled mustard greens (kiam chai) are sold in plastic packages. They also come in cans. Tamarind slices are a little more difficult to find here but you can substitute it with tamarind paste or concentrate or even lime juice.
You can easily find mustard greens or Gai Choy at the Asian grocery stores here int he US. These leafy green vegetables have a peppery taste and can stand up to boiling without breaking down too much.
This recipe is very forgiving and the ingredients listed here are more of a guide. Please adjust accordingly. If you cannot get some of the ingredients, please refer to the notes at the end of this post. I have cook this successfully with various substitutions.
Tools Used in Making This Chop Suey Soup (Chai Boey)
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- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 lb roast pork belly (cut into bite-sized pieces) (450g)
- 1 medium onion (sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 pkt pickled mustard greens / kiam chai (sliced)
- 6 dried chilies (soaked in warm water)
- 4 to 5 slices assam gelugor (tamarind slices)
- Salt to taste
- 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 large stalk Chinese mustard greens (sliced)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (optional)
- Heat oil in a large pot. Add crackly roast pork belly, onion, and garlic. Fry until onion and garlic are lightly brown, about 3 minutes.
- Pour about 10 cups (2.4 liters) of water into the pot. Add pickled mustard greens, dried chilies, and assam gelugor (tamarind slices).
- When it comes to a boil, add salt, dark soy sauce and as much mustard greens as the pot can accommodate. Put the lid on and allow vegetables to cook down.
- Add remaining mustard leaves and tomatoes.
- Reduce heat and allow it to simmer for about 1½ to 2 hours.
Delicious on its own or with a steaming bowl of white rice.
Update: February 1, 2020
I usually do not have leftover Siew Yoke (Roast Pork Belly) and Jiu Hu Char (Stir Fry Jicama with Cuttlefish) from our previous Chinese New Year Feasts unless I plan for it. For this past Chinese New Year Reunion Dinner, I made an extra large piece of siew yoke and extra jiu hu char which I managed to save a little bit of both for this big pot of Chai Boey. I also threw in a few remaining pieces of Chinese Five-Spice Roast Chicken.
This Chai Boey tasted just like the one Mom usually makes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and it was super delicious! It tasted even better the next day but there was no more after that. We all wished there was more.