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Ants on a Tree

November 1, 2010

I’ll admit that recipe name might cause more hesitation than “spicy pork with noodles,” but don’t let the name stop you.  This simple, flavorful dish – from Ruth Reichl’s Gourmet Cookbook – is Sichuan in origin, its odd name deriving from how the little bits of ground pork cling to the noodles.  The texture of bean thread – or cellophane – noodles may be a little strange at first.  They are slightly gelatinous and slide around the mouth in an unfamiliar way.  But ultimately they absorb the cooking liquid quite nicely, and after a couple of bites I was hooked.  I found these noodles in my regular supermarket in the Asian food aisles, but if yours doesn’t have it and you don’t want to visit your local Asian market, rice noodles should work fine.  As for the chili paste, I added it at the end (so as not to put off my less spice-loving diners) – but if you like spicy, add a lot.  Serve with my Pan-Asian All Purpose Side Salad and you’ve got a healthy and delicious meal.  Enjoy!

Ants on a Tree

(serves 4)

¾ lb. ground pork

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. soy sauce

2 tsp. sesame oil

6.5 oz. bean thread noodles

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tbsp. minced garlic

1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger

½ cup scallions, thinly sliced

2 tsp. Asian chili sauce

1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

3 tbsp. Chinese rice wine or sake

1 tsp. sugar

Combine pork with 2 tsp. vinegar, 2 tsp. soy sauce and 1 tsp. sesame oil in a small bowl.  Marinate at room temperature for 20 mins.  Meanwhile, soak noodles in warm water for 15 mins.  Drain noodles and cut to 4-inch long strands.  Heat vegetable oil in wok or skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, ginger and ¼ cup scallions; stir-fry for 30 seconds.  Add pork and chili sauce, stir-frying to break up lumps until meat is no longer pink.  Add noodles, broth, rice wine or sake, sugar, and remaining tbsp. of soy sauce and tbsp. of vinegar, and sugar. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until noodles have absorbed liquid, about 5-6 minutes.  Transfer to plates, drizzle with remaining tsp. sesame oil and remaining ¼ cup scallions.  Eat!

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One comment

  1. […] meats or tofu and veggies, and then we moved on to more complex dishes like ma po do fu and other authentic dishes. But for the most part, we were never able to replicate what you would be served in a Chinese […]



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