Quick Fix With Big Flavour: Ants Climbing A Tree Spicy Noodles

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

Delicious and spicy home made Sichuan Chinese noodles in 10 minutes? YES! This stir fried noodle dish is one that you have to keep up your sleeve in case. Forget take out, these delicious noodles will be done so quickly and yet are so deliciously spicy! This is one of the healthier lower fat noodle dishes too (and it does not involve ants). This is a pushy recipe Dear Reader.

The name Ants Climbing a Tree or Mayi Shang Su comes from the appearance of the pork mince that looks like ants. There are no ants involved I promise. The key to this dish is Toban Djan which is a fermented chilli paste also called Doubanjiang or Dou Ban Jiang. Not all Toban Djan are them are the same - as you can see the ones at Lao gan ma is darker. I preferred the flavour of the Lee Kum Kee one (not sponsored) as it was spicier and a bit sweeter with a better depth of flavour.

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

I always keep lean pork mince in the freezer portioned up for this dish and vermicelli noodles in the pantry as I make it a lot. Sometimes you just need a spicy kick - I find if I have been travelling and there hasn't been a lot of spicy food on offer I absolutely crave a spicy hit and this dish always hits the spot.

Adaption of These Spicy Sichuan Noodles

1 - If you don't want to use pork mince you can also use chicken or beef mince or tofu in this dish as well.

2 - I also like to add some chopped up green beans or snow peas in to make this a one dish meal. Add the green beans in along with the pork or add the trimmed snow peas along with the stock as they take less time to cook.

3 - I have also made these with konnyaku low calorie and high fibre noodles and it works really well!

4 - You can adjust the spiciness by altering the amount of Toban Djan that you use. The quantity below is for spicy noodles but I have a friend who gets the hiccups when food is too spicy so I make her a batch of this with 1/2 a tablespoon of toban djan.

Speaking of hiccups, one night I was about to go to sleep. I was really, really tired because I had woken up early that morning. I love sleeping. It's truly something that I look forward to every night and if I get my required 8 or 9 hours sleep I feel like I can do anything. I have a routine when I go to sleep and I never mess with it. I go upstairs at around 8pm and have a shower and watch tv in bed. Over the next 3-4 hours I get increasingly tired and fall asleep around midnight.

I have a bottle of sparkling water on my bedside table in case I get thirsty. That night I was thinking to myself, should I have a sip? I was a little parched but if I have too much water then I'll have to go to the bathroom. This convo in my head lasted for a minute as I debated back and forth and then I decided to have a little sip of water.

Boy was that a mistake.

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

Because it was sparkling water and I had such a small sip, I gulped more than I should have. And somehow I got the hiccups. There's very little as undignified and embarrassing as hiccups. I get them often enough that I know that I hate them and to know that they don't just go away with time (for me at least).

Mr NQN just lay there amused. He loves it when I get the hiccups because then he has a license to scare me. He tried but all it did was scare Teddy and Milo who were confused and giving me major side eye whenever I'd hiccup. Usually I get rid of them by taking a big sip of water and then swallowing it upside down. Not just bending over slightly but actually trying to put my head between my legs upside down which I never achieve because I'm not that flexible. But it didn't seem to be working, perhaps because it was sparkling water.

By now I had drunk almost half the bottle of water and was ungracefully bent over at the waist trying to put my head between my legs. Mr NQN was amused, the dogs were confused and slightly horrified by my contortions. By the time I got rid of them (with a big sip of flat water) I lay there on the bed. My eyes were wide, I was fully awake and I was breathing heavily. "I'm wide awake now," I said to Mr NQN, regretful at taking that one sip.

So tell me Dear Reader, are you prone to hiccups? And if so, what is the cure? Have you ever tried Ants Climbing a Tree or Mayi Shang Su?

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

Spicy Noodles - Ants Climbing a Tree

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An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott

Preparation time: 5 minutes plus 10 minutes soaking time

Cooking time: 7 minutes

Serves: 2

  • 120g/4ozs dried vermicelli noodles
  • 1.5 tablespoons chilli bean condiment/Toban Djan*
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons Shaoxing cooking wine
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons oil for frying
  • 150g/5ozs pork mince
  • 1/2 cup/125ml/4.4flozs chicken stock (or use 1 cup if you prefer a bit more sauce)
  • 1 green spring onion, sliced

You will find Toban Djan and vermicelli noodles at your local Asian grocer

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

Step 1 - Soak the vermicelli in cold water in a large bowl for 10 minutes (water from the tap is fine) and then drain. Mix the Toban Djan, soy sauce, ginger, Shaoxing cooking wine, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

Step 2 - Heat a frying pan or wok on medium high heat and add the oil and fry the pork mince until browned. Add the chilli mixture from the bowl and cook for 1 minute coating the pork. Add the chicken stock and stir and then add the drained noodles and toss to coat the noodles in the sauce. Stir fry for 2 minutes. Add the spring onion and toss a couple of times and then serve.

Spicy Noodles Ants Climbing a Tree

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