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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Farmer's Chop Suey

The culinary connection between the Chinese and Jewish cultures is well established.  In our family, Sunday night dinner at Pekin House on Devon Avenue in Chicago was a tradition, maybe not every week but often enough.  I'm certain many of you have similar Chinese restaurant dine-in and/or take-out stories.  (Sadly, Pekin House closed its doors in March of this year -

In fact my friend Bonnie and her family still have "Chinese" at least once a week.  She also is a lapsed mah jongg player, so she was happy to go with me to the Skirball Museum to see the current exhibit "Project Mah Jongg".  The exhibit, open thru 9/2, is a colorful, fun, and fascinating look at this American Jewish tradition, which was adapted from the ancient Chinese game.

While the culinary connection between the two cultures mainly consists of Jewish people eating Chinese food, there's a classic cross-cultural recipe that also was a tradition in our Chicago home.  On nearly brutally hot summer days my mother would whip up a cool, refreshing dish called "Farmer's Chop Suey", consisting of fresh vegetables cut into chunks and covered with sour cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                            For this month's Food Bloggers Los Angeles potluck, with tomatoes and zucchini as the featured ingredients, my version of Farmers' Chop Suey, garnished with fried noodles and served with chopsticks in little take-out containers,  was a refreshing way to honor both the theme and tradition.

Farmers' Chop Suey
2 mini cucumbers, cubed
1 1/2 cups baby heirloom tomatoes
6 radishes, cubed
1 medium zucchini, cubed
1 cup carrots, cubed
1 cup celery, chopped
2 green onions, diced
2 cups Greek yogurt, plain or sour cream
1/2 cup fresh dill
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt & fresh ground pepper
Chinese fried noodles

1.  Mix the yogurt, dill, and garlic together and set aside.
2.  Put all the veggies in a bowl and toss to combine.
3.  Add the yogurt mixture to the veggies and toss until well coated.
4.  Season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
5.  Portion into take-out containers, garnish with Chinese fried noodles, and dig in.


  1. That sounds super yummy, especially with the yogurt and dill. It reminds me a little of the Mediterranean yogurt-cucumber salad but with more kinds of veggies and of course, the crunchy garnish. Your presentation with the cilantro sprigs is great.

    1. Faye, thanks so much for commenting. This is such a great, cold and easy salad for these warm, or hot as the case may be, summer days. Perfect accompanied by a bowl of cold beet borscht with more yogurt or sour cream. Stay cool!

  2. Do you make borscht too? I bet it would be good with Melissa's cooked beets.
    By the way, did anyone else from FBLA post about the tomatoes and zucchini meeting?

    1. You're so right about making borscht with Melissa's beets. I made some a couple of summers ago and not only was it delicious but the color was beautiful. If I remember it was as simple as pureeing the beets with lemon juice and water, seasoning it, and then adding the blob of sour cream with a little dill garnish (hope that's accurate). Not sure about any other FBLA posts but there sure were some tasty things at that potluck.

    2. Thanks. You just reminded me that I have 4 beets that have gotten pushed to the back of the fridge and maybe I should make borscht. Of course it's so much easier with Melissa's beets.
      By the way, are you doing a Melissa's booth at the L.A. Epicurean Trade Show?

  3. I want to eat "Chinese" every Sunday night. Lucky you that you grew up doing that. (I love that top image -- very cool!)