Noodles I : Ants Climbing a Tree

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


This is the first in a series of noodle themed posts that will appear over the next month. Enjoy!

One of the better known Sichuan dishes is θš‚θšδΈŠζ ‘ (ma3yi3 shang4shu4 - ants climbing a tree). Highly seasoned ground pork is cooked with bean thread noodles so that as you lift your chopsticks, bits of meat cling to the noodles like ants climbing up a tree.

My attempts at Chinese cooking often turn out badly for reasons that I don't understand, but I figured that a dish this simple might be within my grasp. The only specialty ingredient here is dou ban jiang - spicy fermented bean paste. The most efficient way is to start your water boiling for the noodles, chop the vegetables, and then begin cooking the noodles just before you start to cook the other ingredients. If you have everything on hand, it is about ten minutes' work.

Bring a litre or so of water to boil and cook 120 g (three single serving bundles) of bean thread noodles for 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Chop 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of ginger, 2 mild red chilies, and four green onions. Save some green onions aside for garnish and start cooking everything else in 2 tbs of oil until fragrant, then add 1/2 cup of finely ground pork and cook together until pork is cooked through. Add 1 tsp of white sugar, 1 tbs sesame oil, 1 1/2 tbs dou ban jiang, 1 tbs ground red pepper (more or less depending on how much of a chili head you are), 1 tbs soy sauce, and 2/3 of a cup or so of water. Cook til you have a uniform, soupy mixture and then add the drained noodles. Mix everything together until noodles absorb the water and then garnish with reserved green onions. Serves 2-3 with rice and another dish.

6 comments:

Alison said...

mm this recipe sounds really simple and yummy. I'll have to try it sometime!

Bobbisox said...

Ants climbing a tree is one of my favorite dishes; I haven't made it in about 5 years, I have all the ingredients (gotta have hot bean paste) so thanks for bringing this up. I love noodle dishes. Got a good one for Chow Fun? I do.

Pepper said...

Hi alison, hope you give it a try! It is pretty spicy though.

Sarah said...

Thank you for posting this! I just made it and it's fantastic. I only put in half the ground red pepper, and it's still pretty spicy for me. Next time I'll do half the chilis, too. :)

On a side note, I got all my ingredients at the Asian supermarket yesterday, not realizing today was Chinese New Year. That was fun, let me tell ya. But it was definitely worth it!

Pepper said...

Yeah, you can imagine what the stores are like here...

Kian said...

I love ma yi shang shu. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I usually make a version where the noodle is crispy fried in hot oil instead of boiled in water. I prefer this method as the noodle better absorbs the meat sauce when it is mixed in.