Saturday, June 19, 2010

Jun 19, 2010: LOP Ants Climbing Tree

This is another recipe based upon Fuchsia Dunlop's Land of Plenty... However, I forget to write down the recipe before I returned the book. Looks like I'll have to cook this dish from memory (or I'll just update this post when I get a chance.) I'm glad I take lots of pictures to jog my memory.

Ants climbing a Tree is a weird name for a Chinese dish. I remember watching a film from the 70's where an actor was ordering food over the phone. One of the dishes he ordered was "Ants Climbing a Tree". I forgot the name of the film and the actor (vaguely remember Jack Klugman, but not sure), but I do remember the dish he ordered.

Who would eat ants? Who would eat a tree? What is so appealing about an ant climbing a tree?

I do know about ants and rubber tree plants. Well I have high hopes for this dish.

Ants Climbing a Tree (Approximate)
4 oz Vermicelli
Ground Meat (Chicken for this version)
1 t Chao Hsing Wine
1/2 Salt
1/2 t Dark Soy Sauce
(to taste) Light Soy Sauce
1 1/2 T Hot Bean Paste
2 C Stock
3 Green Onion, chopped

1. Soak the vermicelli noodles in water for about 15 minutes.
Marinade the ground meat with the wine and salt.

2. Fry the ground meat until partially cooked. Add the bean paste and stir in to mix and infuse flavors.

3. Add the stock and 1/2 t dark soy sauce.
Cover and simmer about 5 to 10 minutes.
Mix in the green onions before serving, reserve about 1 T per bowl as garnish.

4. Dish out into a serving bowl and garnish with more green onions.

The metaphorical ants (ground meat) climbing up a tree (the vermicelli noodles).

This is a straightforward dish that tasty too - slightly spicy, except for the chili bean paste, this is a familiar dish I've had growing up. I guess we've been eating "ants climbing a tree" without knowing it's "ants climbing a tree."

So far good recipes from Land of Plenty (LOP).


Anonymous said...

Hello, I really enjoy your blog! I have recently found the fun in cooking and it's nice to see someone else experimenting and enjoying it all.

I have a question for you: do you have any tips for preparing the vermicelli? Whenever I use it (in stir fry or other dishes) it always ends up getting clumpy and the texture is somewhat gluey. Am I cooking it too long? too short? I have no idea. Any tips, or may a basic entry on this, would be much appreciated!


Eat4Fun said...

Hi Julia,

Thank you for the kind words. :-)

I know what you mean about the vermicelli. If you cook that too long, it kind of forms a solid mass that's soft. This mainly occurs when there's a lot of liquid in the dish. Part of that is desirable since the vermicelli is absorbing the flavors from the broth.

What I would try is to soak the vermicelli so it's soft and pliable.

For the cooking, there's two ways to go here.

First, is add at the vermicelli last and cook about 5 mintues so it would absorb some flavors.

The second approach is cook the softened noodles dry, like a stir-fry, and add liquids a little at a time.

Give it a try. I hope it works for you.

John (Eat4Fun)

Anonymous said...

These recipes look wonderful, and the picture reminds me of an ongoing Chinese culinary problem.

Where do you find that particular brand of Hot Bean Paste? I used to pick up a dozen tins everytime I got back to San Francisco. I haven't seen it now in years - I thought perhaps someone had decided it cause cancer in rats and was no longer made.

Anybody know a store that sells it, or a good substitute?

thanks all,
Steve (