Key Stage

KS 3 & KS 4


Design and Technology- Food Technology;

Cross-curriculum learning - Citizenship, History and Geography


Chop Suey


Mr Ben Cheng


The Good Earth Group


Preparation time: 15 mins Cook time: 8 mins



Lesson Plan (Full Version)  pdf button


chef ben cheng



  • Shrimps 100 g
  • Shredded chicken 100 g
  • Sliced water-chestnut 120 g
  • Shredded bamboo shoot 50 g
  • Bean sprouts 150 g
  • Egg 1
  • Sugar 2 tsp
  • Salt ½ tsp
  • Tomato ketchup 1 tsp
  • Sweet & sour sauce 2 tsp
  • Pepper A little
  • Potato starch ¼ tsp
  • Vegetable oil 3 tsp
  • Cold water 2 tbsp


  1. Cook an omelette with 2 tsp oil.
  2. Boil the shrimps and shredded chicken till they are well cooked, and then stir-fry with 1 tsp oil for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sliced water chestnut, shredded bamboo shoot and bean sprouts, and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Add sugar, salt, tomato ketchup, sweet & sour sauce and pepper, and stir-fry all ingredients thoroughly.
  5. Mix the potato starch with cold water, and then add this mixture and stir-fry for 30 seconds to thicken the sauce.
  6. Transfer the chop suey to a plate, top with the omelette and serve.

A. Teacher Notes

Learning outcomes:

  • How to make one of the po pular Chinese cuisines "Chop Suey" in the old days.
  • Use various ingredients like bean sprouts, water chestnut and bamboo shoot which are common in Asian cuisines.
  • Use various seasoning source e.g. sweet & sour sauce.
  • Learn cooking techniques like stir-fry and thicken a sauce (by using potato starch)
  • Increase cultural understanding through learning Chinese cuisines, utensil like wok and eating culture
  • Increase the awareness of the heritage and history of traditional cuisines

Activities and key points: 

  1. For the origin of chop suey, you can ask students to read the story behind the cuisine (see section "E"). If time is limited, ask them to read before or after the lesson.
  2. Give some background information about early Chinese immigrants. Many Chinese immigrants moved to the UK during 50s and 60s and they tended to run Chinese take- away shops or restaurants.
  3. You can play the video of cooking (by Ben Cheng) to demonstrate how to cook if needed.
  4. Let the students know that boiling the shrimps and shredded chicken before stir-fry will involve less cooking time.
  5. Teach students how to handle Chinese ingredients like water chestnut, bamboo shoot and bean sprouts.
  6. Using sweet and source sauce started to be very popular in making Chinese cuisines in the early days.
  7. Let the students know that the techniques of stir-fry and thickening a sauce are quite popular in Chinese cooking.
  8. Remind the students that mixing potato starch in cold water is very important as the heat can make the potato starch too sticky. Corn flour is a substitute ingredient in thickening a sauce.
  9. For schools without woks, frying pans can be used.
  10. After cooking, ask students to reflect on what they have learned from the lesson by filling "My cooking diary". Let the students know that chop suey is rather simple and easy to cook. This was created/ modified by early immigrants as an adaption to the western palate, or a solution to cover the shortage of raw ingredients at the time. (see section "E").
  11. Encourage students to further explore food from the old days. Ask them to do the "Activity Sheet" by interviewing their parents, grandparents or elderly and write down their findings. Try to obtain recipes and stories and explore the relationship between food and history and culture
  12. Introduce the British Library website to the students.   Encourage students to search information through the internet (using ICT) and develop self-learning skill. It will widen their understanding of cross-curriculum knowledge like citizenship, history and geography etc.

B. Cooking techniques


Stir-frying is a technique by which, when properly executed, foods can be cooked in minutes in very little oil so they retain their natural flavours and textures. Stir frying is a popular Chinese cooking technique for preparing food in a wok: "chao". The "chao" technique is similar to the Western technique of sautéing. A small amount of cooking oil is poured down the side of the wok, followed by dry seasonings e.g. ginger and garlic, then at the first moment the seasonings can be smelled, meats are added and agitated.

Sautéing is a method of cooking food that uses a small amount of fat in a shallow pan over relatively high heat. Ingredients are usually cut into pieces or thinly sliced to facilitate fast cooking.


Boiling refers to the method of cooking food in boiling water, or other water-based liquids such as stock. Boiling is a cooking technique that can be applied to chicken, red meat or root vegetables with tough texture but normally not to fish (the bubbles released in boiling can damage fish). Boiling can be used before stir frying because it will involve less cooking time.

Thicken a sauce

Potato starch (or corn flour) is the most common thickening agent in most of Chinese recipes. Dissolve potato starch (or corn flour) first in the same amount of cold water before adding it to the sauce. Avoid leaving a rubbery lump on the bottom of the wok, mix the paste very thoroughly into the sauce at the temperature well below boiling point.

C. Popular ingredients in Chinese dishes

Water Chestnuts: A sweet root vegetable about the size of a walnut and are eaten as a snack in waterchestnuts5china. Water chestnuts are delightfully sweet and crisp--if you buy them fresh. Though canned water chestnuts are more easily available, they're not nearly as acid, a toxin that causes good. You need to peel off their brown jackets and simmer them for five minutes before stir-frying. If you must use canned water chestnuts, blanch them first in boiling water for thirty seconds.

bambooshootsBamboo Shoots: These are young edible shoots of some kinds of bamboo. You must boil them first to rid them of hydrocyanic cyanide poisoning. Canned shoots are safer and more widely available. Rinse them well before using. Submerge any unused shoots in fresh water and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator, changing the water daily.

Bean Sprouts: These are sprouts of the green mung bean. They're crisp and nutty, and they're the best sprouts for stir-frying, though they can also be served raw. To keep them fresh, rinse them off and immerse them in cold water, then store them in the refrigerator. They're very perishable, so use them within a day or two.


sweetandsoursauceSweet and Sour Sauce: The Chinese (Cantonese) probably first came up with the idea of merging these two very different flavours, i.e. sweet and sour, although it is unclear when the idea originated or what led to its invention. Sweet and sour dishes e.g. sweet and sour pork , sweet and sour chicken are very popular in China as well as in western countries.


D. Cooking utensils


wok1A most useful and versatile piece of equipment, the wok may be used for stir frying, blanching, deep-frying and steaming foods.

A wok is a versatile round-bottomed cooking vessel originating in China. It is used especially in East and Southeast Asia. It usually has a long handled chahn (spatula) or hoak (ladle). The long extensions of these utensils allow the cook to work with the food without burning the hand.

The most common materials used in making woks today are carbon steel and cast iron. Although the latter was the most common type used in the past, cooks today tend to be divided on which woks are superior i.e. carbon steel or cast iron.

E. Story behind the dishes – Chop Suey (雜碎)