Easy Oriental Part 16 – Ants Climbing a Tree

Ants climbing a tree (11 of 13)We westerners have an ongoing love affair with Chinese food. Dishes such as Sweet and Sour Pork, Beef and Broccoli and Kung Pao Chicken have become firm favourites across the western world. The difficulty with this popularity is that the dishes tend to become westernised. The process of westernisation invariably takes the edge off the dish. Over time and repeated modification, to suit a jaded and flaccid western palate, it becomes a pale imitation of the original. Happily, we have not got around to ruining the delicious Sichuan dish called Ants Climbing a Tree. This is probably because we are put off by the name and have never taken it far enough to mess it up with bad cooking, fructose and preservatives. 

Ants climbing a tree (1 of 13)

So few ingredients. So much authentic taste!

This is a very simple and tasty dish and well worthy of its position on my Easy Oriental listing. To prepare it, you will need the following:


  • 500 grammes of minced, good quality pork
  • Four servings of vermicelli noodles
  • 500 ml of chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of dark soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of spicy bean paste
  • A few slices of ginger, shredded
  •  8 to 10 spring onions
  • Lard or oil for frying

Side note on dish naming: This dish is supposed to resemble ants climbing up a tree, the pieces of minced pork being the ants and the sliced spring onions being the leaves of the noodle tree. A very simple, yet creative name. Most great creative is simple. 

Chop the spring onions.

Ants climbing a tree (2 of 13)

Be sure to use a good deal of the green bit. You need that for authenticity.

Soak the noodles in hot water to soften and drain. Heat some lard or oil in a wok. Add the ginger and stir until aromatic. Add the pork and brown it a bit. Add the paste and stir it in to the pork.

Ants climbing a tree (5 of 13)

That pork will eventually be the ants of the dish name.

Next, add the soy sauce and then stir in the sliced spring onions. Then add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Ants climbing a tree (9 of 13)

The authentic colours are fantastic. Don’t mess with the original!

This will finish cooking the pork and there will be a nice sauce to be absorbed by the noodles.

Ants climbing a tree (10 of 13)

The vermicelli noodles don’t need any cooking. They will absorb the sauce too!

Stir everything to combine. Serve and enjoy with your friends or family.

Ants climbing a tree (13 of 13)

The green spring onions are supposed to be the leaves, the pork, the ants. Very creative.


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Latest comments
  • Looks gorgeous! I love the way the noodles have absorbed the delicious sauce.

    • I admit to being conflicted by the sauce being absorbed. I love having it as sauce and I love it in the noodles. Perhaps I should make a higher sauce to noodle ratio?

  • Num num. I only have one kind of GF soy sauce, but that’ll have to do. And I have plenty of pork mince, rice noodles and the other ingredients. Just spring onions on the list, then….

    • Excellent Katie, my dear,
      Cook it and post it please.

      • It’ll be a couple of days, as we ate pork yesterday and I like to space out my pig-fests a little… Your teryaki salmon was made the very next day, though, and I even managed a number of reasonable gratuitous pouring shots – several of them with suspended drops of that outstandingly delicious sauce. I was going to send you a brag-photo, and then realised I don’t have an email address. Probably a wise move on your part, or you’d be inundated with the feeble attempts of others to emulate your pouring expertise…

  • Delicious – I don’t mind those ants in the kitchen 🙂

    • I remember staying in my parents’ in laws place in Spain. One had to clear away every scrap after every meal or there would be a line of ants trooping across the kitchen. Not that we don’t clear away after a meal. But, I think you know what I mean…

      • Yes, definitely, but I don’t mind a chocolate covered ant 🙂

  • Just cooked this for lunch. Delicious. Thank you so much. Great stuff altogether.

    • Brilliant. That must be the fastest ‘post to plate’ I have ever seen.
      Thanks for that.

  • Wonderful name, very tasty looking dish. You’re making me peckish again.

    • If I can achieve that Linda, then it was worth getting out of the bed this morning.

  • That looks great – what is spicy bean paste? I need to go to China Town to get some green tea so will pick some up while I am there.

  • Now I am off to the Asian market for spicy bean paste and dark soy sauce – yum!

    • Anne,
      That is a good idea. This is simple and very tasty.
      Let me know how it turns out please.

  • This one sure fits the bill of easy oriental! I’ve never noticed spicy bean paste before, so will have to hunt for it.

    • Lots of it about. You could, of course make your own. That would be pure Stefan.

  • Yum, Asian food really suits our climate, I’ve made many different rice noodle dishes, but never this, definitely one to try.

    • Sandra,
      You need to give it a go. It is easy, tasty and any one-pot dish is a great idea.

  • You got me at easy! This looks wonderful and a great idea for a quick mid-week dinner. It’s nice to see us Westerners haven’t mucked up this dish in some odd fashion.

    • Thanks Kathryn. Not that you would muck it up if you tried it…

  • Could not agree more with you about the ‘Westernization’ of most Asian cuisines. Being in the Asia-Pacific zone we in Australia are less subject to this . . . also a big proportion of our food bloggers are of Asian background and largely post what Mom and Grandmom cooked!! Glory hallelujah!!! Sweet and sour pork was 60s and 70s and I have yet to see Kung Pao chicken on the menu of any restaurants I frequent. But I do so like your today’s recipe and thank you for solving my menu for lunch – have all the ingredients 🙂 !

    • This one seems to be the most cooked within a day of posting of any I have done. Perhaps the route to blogging happiness is for me to do really simple stuff in future.
      All good fun. I often envy you Australians the geography and the resulting authenticity of much of the Asian food you eat. I will continue to try to be an outpost of sanity in the northern hemisphere.

      • Yes, methinks we ARE the ‘Lucky Country’ fooodwise also. But you always make it simple but different anyways . . . and that is very much one of the reasons I always ‘visit’ you ere I get to other blogfriends’ sites!! It IS ‘good fun’!!

  • Perfect, Conor. I’ve been dabbling in Asian cuisine lately but sticking to easy dishes. This one suits me just fine. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you John,
      Delighted to be of service. Delighted too that you are moving beyond your roots, not withstanding the fine cuisine that lies there.

  • Looks fantastic. In fact, it looks so good, I’m looking forward to seeing one or two of these particularly excellent photographs adorning European restaurant sites in the near future (without your permission obviously).

    • We both know it will happen. Though the inclusion of a big brand bottle of beer in the shot might scare the thieves off. I must do another photo trawl and start another big fight.

      • That’s very logicalistic, Conor. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the internet works that way. Good luck though, I’ll be cheering from the sidelines.

  • Its a sad reality Conor and only a few places stick to their cultural guns – Parnell Street/Sq has quite few Asian places that fall into this category. Great looking dish!

    • Thanks Big Falla. My brother who lives in Africa loves to get down to Parnell St and Moore Street whenever he is in Ireland. He recognises and values the authenticity in a way most of us don’t.

  • Doesn’t Pfizer make a culinary version of Viagra that can awaken a flaccid palate? Or do I really have to cook delicious-looking Asian dishes like this?

  • Gorgeous dish!

  • Yes, the name certainly puts a lot of people. The Chinese has a funny way of naming their dishes.

    This dish looks absolutely delicious though!

  • One of my favorite Sichuan dishes. If made well, it’s stunningly good.

    • Thanks Frank. I think I did an OK job. It’s hard to not over-cook the noodles.

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