Classic Sichuan Dish – Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

INTRODUCTION

“Ants Climbing a Tree (simplified Chinese: 蚂蚁上树; traditional Chinese: 螞蟻上樹) is a classic Sichuan dish in Chinese cuisine. Additional names for the dish include “Ants climb tree”, “ants climbing up a tree”, “ants on the tree”, “ants creeping up a tree”, “ants climbing a hill” and “ants climbing a log”. The dish consists of ground meat, such as pork, cooked in a sauce and poured over bean thread noodles. It is so called because the bits of ground meat clinging to the noodles evoke an image of ants walking on twigs. Other ingredients in the dish may include rice vinegar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, sesame oil, scallions, garlic, ginger, and chilli paste.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ants_climbing_a_tree)

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

I have prepared the dish and when I took pictures, I am rather disappointed because my dish is not glossy like those in the internet. One of the reasons that I can conclude is lesser oil being used as compared to those sold in the restaurant.  In the restaurant they are using red chilli oil in the cooking for this dish. However, for this illustration, since I have to prepare for kid’s consumption , I have omitted the usage of these. Recipe will call for the usage of chilli fermented soya bean paste as in the picture below, I have decide not to use it for the same reason. Instead, I prepared my own version by pounding the brown colour fermented soya bean and some deseeded red chilli. That could possibly is another cause.

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

Another very probable reason is the type of glass noodles being used. Wikipedia called these noodles as cellophane noodles. As per Wiki:

“Cellophane noodles (/ˈsɛləˌfeɪn/; also known as Chinese vermicelli, bean threads, bean thread noodles,crystal noodles, or glass noodles) are a type of transparent noodle made from starch (such as mung bean starch, yam, potato starch, cassava or canna starch), and water. They are generally sold in dried form, boiled to reconstitute, then used in soups, stir fried dishes, or spring rolls. They are called “cellophane noodles” or “glass noodles” because of their appearance when cooked, resembling cellophane, a clear material of a translucent light gray or brownish-gray color.” (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cellophane_noodles)

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

I have discovered recently that the tanghoon or glass noodles that I have purchased will not become transparent no matter how long I have soaked it and cooked it. It looks rather different from the glass noodles that I knew when I was young. When young, the tanghoon is very slippery and transparent.  I believed that this is due to the type of starches used to produce the glass noodles. The one I am using now is made from mung bean starches but i have seen many recipe called for glass noodles made from sweet potatoes starches.  Therefore, that can be another reason that make the glass noodles less glossy.

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

Whatever it is,  I have read up many recipes and I believed what I am sharing today is a rather authentic recipe. As long as you are using the chilli fermented soya bean paste above, you should have a delicious plate of ants climbing the tree. Preparation is very easy and I have classified this as simple household dishes.

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)


WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: 4-6 adult servings

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

  • 100 grams or 2 bundles of glass noodles
  • 100 grams of minced pork
  • 1 tablespoon of minced garlic ginger
  • 1 tablespoon of spicy fermented soya bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon of dark soya sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped spring onions
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar or chicken stock powder
  • 2 tablespoon of cooking oil

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

  • Soaked the glass noodles in cold water until soft. Drain and set aside.

  • For the minced meat, add 1-2 tablespoons of water. Stir until it look like picture above. With this step, your minced meat will not coagulate together when stir frying.

  • In a wok, put the cooking oil, sauté the minced garlic and ginger until aromatic and slightly golden brown. Add the spicy fermented soya bean paste. Stir fry for a few minutes under medium heat until the oil turns reddish.

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

  • Add the minced pork and stir fry until the pork is almost set. Add the water, followed by the seasonings (chicken stock powder, dark soya sauce) and bring to boil. Once it boiled, add the soaked glass noodles. Stir until well combined. Let it simmer for about 2-3 minutes or until the sauce dries up. Add the chopped onion and the dish are ready.  The saltiness of the dish will depend on the brand of the spicy fermented soya bean paste, if it is not tasty enough, feel free to add some light soya sauce or salt to flavour the dish. Best served as a standard side dish with steaming white rice.

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)


CONCLUSION

A very simple recipe and I hope readers will give this recipe a try.

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

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Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

 


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Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

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Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

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Classic Sichuan Dish - Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树)

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