Ants on Tree 螞蟻上樹

Continuing from my “Asian food week”. Since I had some chili bean paste left, I decided to make use of it in different recipes.

The origin of this dish:




食譜:螞蟻上樹 – 地圖日記

The gist of the above:
The dish was said to be related to Dou-er (竇娥), a character in Guan Hanqing (關漢卿)’s play (Yuan Dynasty). Dou-er was given to Mrs. Cai (Dou-er’s father’s creditor) as a child bride. Unfortunately Dou-er’s husband passed away shortly after they were married. Dou-er’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Cai, became ill due to her son’s death. Dou-er was left to take charge in the house. They were strapped for money (due to Mrs. Cai’s medical expenses and no income), but Dou-er tried to be creative with her cooking so that her mother-in-law had healthy meals and she had to start buying food on credit. One day, the butcher refused to sell her any more meat, but Dou-er managed to persuade him to give her a tiny piece of pork. She had no idea what she was going to do with this tiny piece of meat. She soaked some bean noodle in water, minced the meat and fried it with some green onions and ginger, added in the noodles with some soy sauce, garlic, and white pepper. Mrs. Cai’s eye sight was deteriorating, when she saw the dish, she asked, “what is this delicious-smelling dish? Why are there so many ants on this dish?” She thought it was delicious and said, “let’s call this dish Ants on Tree (螞蟻上樹).”

Recipe translated from

Bean noodles/Glass noodles, 75g
Lean ground pork, 110g
Green onions, chopped, 2tbsp
Ginger, minced, 1 tbsp
Garlic, minced, 1 tbsp
Chili bean paste, 1 tbsp
Soy sauce, 1 tsp
Sugar, 1/4 tsp
Water, 1 cup
Sesame oil, 2 tsp
Canola oil, 4 tbsp


  1. Soak the bean noodles in warm water, for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Fry the ground pork in canola oil, with high heat.
  3. Make sure the ground pork is separated well. Add ginger, garlic and chili bean sauce. Mix. Add water and sugar. Bring the mixture to boil.
  4. Add the noodles. Simmer and cook. Stir occasionally to prevent noodles from sticking.
  5. Cook until liquid has been soaked up by noodles/when noodles are completely transparent. Add green onions and sesame oil before serving.

Pretty easy dish. Quick too. Caution: don’t add to much chili bean paste, you might start with less than 1 tbsp and then add more after tasting.


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