BEAN THREAD NOODLES WITH MARINATED PORK (ANTS CLIMBING A TREE)
the thing i love most about chinese food is that there is always a story, a long winding tale of some sort that grounds the food. i will be cooking a lot of traditional chinese dishes and i hope to be able to learn about the history and the stories behind them. but for today, there is no tale to tell, simply a description. a direct translation of what is visually on the plate to a phrase that became this dish’s name: ANTS CLIMBING A TREE (蚂蚁上树).
what a silly phrase for a simple dish, which is merely cooked ground meat mixed with clear bean thread noodles. the little pieces of meat clinging onto thin slivers of noodles evoke images of ants climbing on twigs. hence: ants climbing a tree, ants up a tree, or ants climb tree, etc. you get the picture. it involves ants and trees.
this dish is a chinese 家常菜 "common house dish." meaning that it’s a dish you cook at home and not something you would order at a restaurant. the awesome thing about these common house dishes is that there are no rules about how to make it. every mother will have her own way. if you like it spicy, add red chillies or add garlic and ginger too if you’d prefer. the idea is to make it your own.
- 1 packet clear bean thread noodles
- 1 green onion diced
- 1/3 lb. ground pork
- 4-5 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- cooking oil
Use 2 tbsp soy sauce and the sesame oil to marinate the ground pork before cooking, anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours. Soak the noodles according to package directions. I soaked my noodles in hot water for 3-5 minutes until soft.
The trick to this dish is to get the oil in the skillet scalding hot until the oil is almost smoking. If you have a wok or are using a pan that is not nonstick, make sure to use plenty of oil so the noodles don’t stick to the pan. Add the green onion and ground pork and cook until there is no pink left. Make sure the pan is still at a high temperature and add the noodles. Pour the remaning 2 tbsp soy sauce and 1 tsp sesame oil and mix the noodles until well incorporated into meat and onions. The noodles should start turning a light brown color. Cook for another few minutes until the flavors come together. Garnish with green onions if you’d like.