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
Add soy sauce, rice wine, hot bean paste, and corn flour
to a bowl. Mix in pork and marinate for 30 minutes.
noodles in hot water for 20 minutes, then drain.
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.
Add chicken stock, bring to a boil. Reduce heat
and cook for a further 2 or 3 minutes, stirring well.
noodles to wok. Stir until noodles and sauce are blended
well together and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Garnish
Even the English, known for their plain cooking, use salt when boiling potatoes and carrots. Yet the Chinese cook rice in nothing but water. In stark contrast to the way most other foods are prepared in China, rice is a singularly pure, simple, even bland dish; the perfect foil for well seasoned meat and vegetable dishes.