The typical Chow Chow relish that has become a popular food in the southern U.S. is a combination of vegetables which may include any ingredients such as: cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, celery, green tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, gherkins, string beans, lima beans, kidney beans, and Navy beans seasoned with vinegar, sugar and salt. However, other types of Chow Chow also exist which contain fewer ingredients such as Chow Chows with only pickles, onions, sweet peppers, mustard, vinegar, and seasonings. U.S. Chow Chows are typically served as a dipping sauce for breads or as a condiment to spread over the top of cornbread or buns with hot dogs and hamburgers.
Another condiment that is often confused or considered to be the same as Chow Chow is a relish known as Piccalilli. One of the key differences appears to be that many Piccalilli recipes have a wider variety of vegetables added to the ingredients, but generally, the recipes for both relishes can be very similar. Each has recipes created by chefs that include mustard, a variety of pickled vegetables minced into small pieces, and various seasonings that are added to provide a flavor desired, such as spicy or mild ingredients. Therefore, the only noticeable differences between the two condiments is the name, the number of vegetables included, and perhaps the origin of the recipe.
The Asian version of Chow Chow is made with fruit, vegetables and ginger combined with heavy sweet syrup. This condiment is most often used as a topping for sweets or ice cream as well as an ingredient for baked goods. Another spelling of this condiment may be displayed as "chowchow."