Chop Suey on the PrairiesNovember 1, 2010 - August 31, 2012
Every town has one ...
There are more Chinese restaurants in North America than there are fast food outlets combined. They range in size and grandeur from upscale banquet halls serving over 500 people to family-run hole-in-the-wall cafés where the parents cook and serve while the children do homework or clean vegetables in the corner. Chinese restaurants have become so much a part of our landscape that it is hard to imagine a time when they were considered exotic.
All across the prairies, Chinese restaurants can be found in almost every town and hamlet. While the families that have run these restaurants may have changed over the years, the restaurants remain and have become indispensable centres of small town life.
Chop Suey on the Prairies will be on tour around Alberta from November 2010 to September 2012.
|Donalda and District Museum||November to December 2010|
|Mountain View Museum, Olds||January to February 2011|
|Wetaskiwin Heritage Museum||January to February 2011|
|Peace River Museum, Archives and Mackenzie Centre||March to May 2011|
|Musée Morinville Museum||March to May 2011|
|Camrose Railway Station Museum & Park||June 2011|
|Lac Cardinal Pioneer Village Museum||June 2011|
|Multicultural Heritage Centre, Stony Plain||July to September 2011|
|Caroline Wheels of Time Museum||July 2011|
|Trochu and District Museum||August 2011|
|Fort Ostell Museum, Ponoka||August to September 2011|
|Onoway Museum||November to December 2011|
|Sundre and District Pioneer Museum||November to December 2011|
|Esplanade Arts & Heritage Centre Medicine Hat||February to April 2012|
|Evansburg Tipple Park Museum||March 2012|
|Nobleford Museum||May 2012|
|Bentley Museum||May to June 2012|
|Millet & District Museum, Archives and Visitor Centre||June to August 2012|
Ginger Beef is a Chinese-Alberta specialty.
Even though a number of restaurants claim to have invented ginger beef, it is generally agreed that it originated with chef George Wong at the Silver Inn Restaurant in Calgary in the mid-1970s. On the menu it was, and is still, called "deep fried shredded beef in chili sauce." But regular customers kept asking for the 'gingery beef dish' and so the name was shortened to 'ginger beef.'
The Silver Inn's ginger beef dish was soon adopted by other Calgary Chinese restaurants. Today, it can be found in almost every restaurant, food court and kiosk serving Chinese food in Alberta.
Let's see what we can learn by taking a closer look at...
The History of ginger beef.
The dish's inventor, George Wong, was a traditionally trained Chinese chef whose specialty was Northern Chinese food, sometimes referred to as Peking style. His career as a chef took him to London, England where he worked in relatives' take-out restaurants.
In 1974 Wong moved to Calgary and married Lily Cheung, one of two sisters who owned the Silver Inn. The sisters intended to open a Chinese restaurant serving authentic Northern Chinese food, but for the first year found themselves serving hamburgers and grilled cheese alongside their Chinese dishes. Calgarians were not yet ready for Chinese dishes that went beyond chop suey, fried rice or egg drop soup.
"Deep fried shredded beef in chili sauce" was one of the dishes that Wong introduced to his new customers. Inspired by an orange peel beef dish from Hunan province in China, he adjusted the seasonings to create a pub dish that had been popular when he worked in England. The dish was sticky and sweet, the way that most English people liked their Chinese sauces, and its spiciness went well with beer. To make his dish appeal to Calgarians, Wong battered and deep fried the beef. Even though he used very little ginger, Calgarians attributed the dish's slightly spicy taste to ginger and 'ginger beef' was created.
Thus, in reality, this Alberta Chinese specialty is a traditional dish of Northern China that has been influenced by English pub culture and tailored to Albertan tastes.
Click on a dish below for a recipe!
Alberta Ginger Beef
Beef with Ginger
Orange Peel Beef