Ants Climbing a Tree – Chinese glass noodle stir fried with seasoning and ground meat is one of the classic Sezchuan dishes that get its unique name because of its appearance. Can be made on stove-top or instant pot
Chinese sure does like to name their dishes in a very unique way. Most of the time it’s a “literal” translation of what it visually looks like. This ants climbing a tree dish is one of the example. Fret not, there is no ants involved. This classic Szechuan dish is named as such because of how the little pieces of ground meat clings to the noodles. It resembles ants climbing a tree. Why not other bugs you would ask, why ants? well, I honestly not sure about that part.
This ants climbing a tree is a noodle dish prepared with ground meat (usually pork, but feel free to use ground beef or even ground turkey) stir-fried in spicy chili bean paste. Super easy to prepare but really delicious. As one of the characteristics of Szechuan dish, this noodle dish is spicy, but you can tone it down if you need to. I actually only put a tiny bit of spicy chili bean paste in there or one of my kids will refuse to eat it if it’s too spicy.
Next time if someone ask you “what are you cooking today?” You can tell them “ants climbing a tree” and let him/her think a little bit! Ha!
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Ants Climbing a Tree - Glass Noodle Stir-fry (Ma Yi Shang Shu)
- 8 oz dried bean thread noodles (soak in water for 10 minutes)
- 3 Tbsp cooking oil
- 1 1/2 cups ground meat (can be pork, beef, or turkey)
- 2- inch slice of ginger (finely chopped)
- 1-2 Tbsp chili bean paste optional- amount depends on how spicy you want it
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce or more to your taste
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 3 stalks of green onion (finely chopped)
If using wok or skillet
Preheat a wok or large skillet. Add cooking oil. add ground meat and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add in the chili bean paste and ginger and stir to mix everything. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, and chicken stock. Bring it to a boil and then add the bean thread noodles. Stir to mix everything. The noodle will absorb some of the sauce
If using Instant pot:
Turn the saute mode on. When it's hot, add cooking oil. Add ground meat and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add in the chili bean paste and ginger and stir to mix everything. Add in the soy sauce, sugar, and water. Bring it to a boil and then add the bean thread noodles. Stir to mix everything. The noodle will absorb some of the sauce
Remove and transfer to a serving platter and garnish with chopped green onion. Serve immediately. You can cut the noodles into shorter length with kitchen shears for easier eating (especially for little kids)