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
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People tend to pigeonhole the wok as an instrument of stir frying. It seems to have been developed specifically for that use; that is the job it does to perfection. Yet this uniquely shaped cooking pot handles at least adequately: frying, deep frying, braising, stewing, boiling, smoking steaming, and soup making, though it is not used as a rice cooker. Woks are always better over flames, whether fuelled by wood, coal or gas, and never a great match for the electric stove top.