Whoever came up with the name “ants climbing a tree” had quite the sense of humor. The recipe name may not seem appetizing, but it is in fact a yummy bite.
This funny name for a delicious Sichuanese main dish comes from the tiny bits of ground meat that are blended with the glassy cellophane noodles that resemble ants climbing on a tree. Stir-fry dishes are Seriously Simple to prepare as long as you have all the ingredients measured and set out before cooking.
Cellophane noodles are translucent and usually made from mung bean starch. They are sold dried and need to be reconstituted in liquid before cooking. They are sometimes referred to as glass noodles. This is a dish that the whole family will enjoy, for its satisfying flavor as well as its amusing name. Try a stir-fried green vegetable as an accompaniment.
Ants Climbing a Tree
3 ounces cellophane noodles
2 tbsp. peanut oil
1/2 lb. ground pork, beef or turkey
2 scallions, sliced
1 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. dry sherry
1 tsp. chili paste with garlic
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup beef stock
Chopped scallions and cilantro leaves, for garnish
Soak the noodles in boiling water to cover. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain and cut them into 2-inch pieces. Set aside.
In a wok over high heat add the oil, swirling around to coat the sides. When the oil is very hot but not smoking, add the pork, beef or turkey and cook, stirring and pushing it down with the back of a spatula for about 3 to 4 minutes or until it changes color and is no longer pink. Push the meat to the side and add the scallions and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Add the water chestnuts and toss all of the ingredients together for 30 seconds.
Add the soy sauce, sherry, chili paste with garlic, sugar and beef stock to the pork, beef or turkey and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the reserved noodles and cook for 3 more minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with scallions and cilantro and serve immediately.