What Is Subgum Wonton Soup?

Subgum wonton soup is a type of wonton soup with additional and varied ingredients. Subgum could mean the addition of seafood, mixed vegetables or other additions to the normal recipe of Chinese wonton soup.

When translated from Cantonese Chinese, the words sap and gam mean “numerous and varied,” and translate to Americanized “subgum.” Subgum can refer to a number of Chinese American dishes, and not just wonton soups. Common vegetable additions to make a dish subgum include water chestnuts, mushrooms, bamboo shoots and green onions. Rice noodles are also a popular ingredient that would cause a dish to be labeled as subgum.

Reportedly, the first mention of the word subgum in a Chinese American dish was in Chicago in the early 1900s. In addition to other Chinese American dishes, subgum is characterized as Chinese food in the United States, but would not be enjoyed in China. Other Chinese American dishes include crab wontons, General Tso’s chicken, chop suey, pu-pu platters and egg rolls. Menu items that include sweet and sour tastes and salad also do not originate in China. in fact, one of the most popular Chinese dishes, General Tso’s chicken, had not been heard of in China until roughly the year 1970.