Ants climbing trees

Guest post from Jetsetting Joyce.
Our last recipe is a favourite in my family – the Sichuanese dish ‘Ants Climbing Trees’, so called because it resembles, well, ants climbing trees. It marries the holy trinity of Chinese cooking – garlic, ginger and spring onions – with Asian store cupboard essentials – soy sauce, Shaoxing rice wine, sesame oil and chilli bean paste.

The key to wok cooking is to have all your ingredients measured and to hand. The wok should be on very high heat and the pace is fast and furious, with constant movement to distribute the heat evenly.

125g (4 ½ oz) minced pork
½ teaspoon light soy sauce
½ teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
½ teaspoon roasted sesame oil

125g bean thread noodles. Buy the brand ‘Lungkow’ and beware of imitations

1 tablespoon oil
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 teaspoons chilli bean paste (toban jiang), or to taste

2 spring onions, green part only, finely chopped.

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon roasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons of water or chicken stock

1. Marinate the minced meat with soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Soak the bean thread noodles in hot water for 8 minutes, then drain. Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
2. Heat a wok over high heat, add oil and heat until very hot. Stir-fry the meat, mashing and separating, until it starts to change colour. Push the meat to the side of the wok, add the spring onion, ginger, garlic and chilli paste and stir-fry for 5 seconds until fragrant. Return the meat to the centre of the pan.


3. Add the sauce to the meat mixture and toss lightly. Add the noodles and mix well with meat mixture. Be careful not to overcook as you don’t want the noodles to become gluggy.
4. Serve it on a plate sprinkled with finely chopped spring onion, some steamed rice and Asian greens like bok choi/pak choy or gai lan stir-fried with garlic, ginger and spring onions, and maybe a dash of Lee Kum Kee oyster sauce.


Serves four.
If you liked reading this you might be interested in Jet Setting Joyce’s other recipes including her step by step guide to making dumplings.
Jetsetting Joyce is Chinese-Australian, a keen cook and writes and edits two blogs – MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne and BNE: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Brisbane. The blogs review restaurants, bars, shops, culture, events and everything in between for locals and visitors to Melbourne and Brisbane. You can also follow Joyce on Twitter.
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  1. “Buy the brand ‘Lungkow’ and beware of imitations” – what’s the importance of that particular brand?

  2. I love fensi (bean thread noodle) and I must try and make this at home as many restaurants balls this up.

  3. @American in London – the quality of the bean thread noodles will affect whether or not the dish becomes a glutinous mess or whether the noodles hold their texture. I’ve mistakenly bought an imitation brand before, soaked it for exactly the same amount of time, and ended up with a huge cake of stuck-together noodles. Urgh.

    @Mr Noodles good luck! let me know how you go.

    Jetsetting Joyce

  4. Looks delicious.
    Love cooking with mince b/c it’s like a sponge to soak up those delicious flavours!

  5. Joyce – thanks so much for this fantastic post

    American in London – if Joyce says Lungkow then Lungkow it is!

    Mr Noodles – I think I have actually read your comments on the poor quality of this dish on your blog

    Lex Eat – I know Joyce’s pictures are making me hungry

  6. Looks delicious. Love the combination!

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