It’s National Chop Suey Day in the US! Although there are different versions of how this dish was created, most say that it was started in the United States.
One legend is that it was created by a Chinese restaurant owner in San Francisco in the 1860s. The story says that several drunken miners entered his restaurant after hours demanding food. Trying to avoid a beating, the owner put together a dish by stir frying whatever leftovers he could find with soy sauce. The diners enjoyed it so much, they asked what it was called and he said, “Chop Suey.”
It could be that the owner said “杂碎,” Chinese for “miscellaneous leftovers.” It sounds similar to “Chop Suey” in Cantonese. 杂碎 was actually popular in Quangdong Province (Canton), where most early Chinese immigrants to America originated. There, it was popular among farmers, who would stir-fry the unsold vegetables at the end of the day.
It is now referred to in Chinese as 炒杂碎 (chǎo zá suì).