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Ants climbing tree recipe  

Ants Climbing a Tree 螞蟻上樹 (mǎyǐ shàng shù) A simple, spicy rice noodle dish originating in Sichuan.

Ants climbing a tree


This fried dish is made with dong fen (冬粉), mung bean noodles (also known as bean thread noodles or Chinese vermicelli). These thin noodles don't need to be boiled. Just steep them in hot water to make them soft and translucent. They are an interesting change from wheat flour noodles. Now, about that name: the bits of minced meat are meant to stick to the noodle strands, and that, so they say, looks like ants crawling through the branches of a tree. Fanciful, maybe, but easy to remember.

Serves 4 to 6

200g (7 oz) mung bean noodles
200g (7 oz) lean minced pork
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
1–2 tablespoons hot bean paste
1 teaspoon corn flour
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 stalks spring onions, sliced into small pieces
1/2 cup chicken stock
Garnish: cilantro or spring onions


  1. Add soy sauce, rice wine, hot bean paste, and corn flour to a bowl. Mix in pork and marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Soak noodles in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain.
  3. Heat wok, and add oil. Cook pork mixture over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spring onions and cook for a minute more.
  4. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes, stirring well.
  5. Add noodles to wok. Stir until noodles and sauce are blended well together and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Garnish and serve.


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The Origins of Chopsticks

Chopsticks have been dug from burial plots that are at least 3,200 years old. Some surmise that they evolved from a practice of using a wooden stick while cooking on an open fire to prod, stir or move food. It is fairly easy to imagine how a pair of sticks came to be used like tongs.

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