Chicken chopsuey Fiji style is one that has a thick gravy base and full of fresh vegetables. If you’ve eaten and loved the famous Joji’s stir fries and chopsuey, you will have noticed that the meat and onions are plentiful. Sure the meal is outrageously large and so delicious but it lacks extra fresh vegetables that adds an extra depth of flavour. If you’re making your own from scratch, you can do so much with it such as add bone-in chicken which has a better flavour and texture than just chicken breasts. Piling in a heap of chinese cabbage and whatever fresh ingredients you like such as capsicum, frozen mixed vegetables, celery, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots will make this meal nutritious too.
The sauce is what makes the chicken chopsuey so delicious as it has an umami flavour. This flavour is usually a product of MSG (monosodium glutamate) which is a highly controversial ingredient. It is up to you to add or omit this ingredient in your dish but be mindful that some soy sauces may contain it. Speaking of soy sauces, the brand that we use for this chopsuey has got to be Pearl River. The ‘Superior Dark’ range is the strongest flavour you can get in a soy sauce so use it sparingly to prevent your gravy from being too overpowering and salty. Other brands like Kikkoman will also produce a delicious flavour. Use your favourite brand and adjust the amount according to the type you use (add more if using light soy sauce). A good tip to remember is to add salt only after the meal is cooked. Taste the food then add the salt before turning off the heat. This prevents your food from getting too salty as soy sauce contains excessive amounts of salt.
The gravy base is made from cornstarch that thickens when cooked and provides a beautiful silky ‘sauce’ for the dish. Pair this with jasmine or any kind of starchy rice, or boiled root crops such as dalo (taro) or cassava (tapioca) and you’ve got yourself a winner!
500g Bone-in Chicken
2 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce (OR 4 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce)
1 Tbsp Garlic Paste
1 Large Bongo (Habanero) Chilli, Sliced
1 Inch Piece Ginger, Sliced
1 Large Onion, Sliced
1 Large Carrot – Sliced Lengthwise
2 Chinese Cabbages
¼ Cup Cornstarch
¾ Cup Water
Ground Black Pepper – to taste
Salt – to taste
2 Tbsp Oil
Chinese Cooking Wine (Optional)
Vegetables of choice
- In a bowl place your chicken then add soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chillies, 1 tsp oil and Chinese cooking wine (optional). Let the mixture marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables and slice and dice them as you desire
- Heat oil in a deep frying pan or wok on high heat
- Add the marinated chicken to the wok or pan and cook on high heat, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of water in the pan, cook till the water reduces (lower heat if garlic begins to burn)
- Place the vegetables into the pan (except Chinese cabbage) and cook on high heat for 5 – 7 minutes or until done (prevent overcooking the vegetables to keep them crisp)
- Gently add the cabbage, turning to combine it through and letting it wilt
- Make the gravy mixture by combining the cornstarch and water in a jug or bowl to make approximately one cup of gravy*. Add this to the pan and mix frequently to avoid catching to the pot
- Cook till a thick gravy forms – this takes about 2 minutes
- Sprinkle the black pepper, then taste the gravy for salt and add more if required
- Turn off the heat and serve hot with rice, dalo, cassava or noodles.
*Note: If the consistency of the gravy is too thick, add water in ¼ cup increments till desired consistency is achieved. If it is too light, mix two tablespoons of cornstarch with ¼ cup of water and add to the pan. This depends on the amount of water released from the meat and vegetables while cooking so you will need to adjust accordingly.