Foodiva's Kitchen: Ants Climbing a Tree (Sichuan Spicy Stir-Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Mushrooms)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Ants Climbing a Tree (Sichuan Spicy Stir-Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Mushrooms)


Before I cooked this dish, I didn't have much of an inkling as to how to handle Sichuan or Szechuan cuisine in my kitchen. Previous experiences of eating delicious Sichuan in chinese restaurants, with their lavish presentations complete with intricate, edible carvings have spoiled me, I think. And made me break out in a sweat when I found out this month's International Incident Party theme was Sichuan. How on earth was I going to reproduce those masterpieces that I only knew how to eat (usually on corporate expense)?  


A few weeks and tons of research later, I found out that not all Sichuan dishes were spicy, nor were they all arduous to prepare. Like this stir-fried glass noodle dish, for example. Okay, it did say 'Spicy' in the title because the recipe contained chillies and ginger. When I cooked it though, it really wasn't too spicy at all, quite manageable by my (delicate) standards. It took me less than 30 minutes to prepare and fry up. That's a good thing when, if you're like me, you have a whole army of in-house relatives to feed! Not to mention parents and friends who like to drop by unannounced (ahem, this isn't a hint, by the way).



Three guesses for why I chose to make this when there are a couple of thousand other Sichuan dishes I could try out. How about that name - Ants Climbing a Tree? Other names for this authentic Sichuan dish include Ants Climbing a Hill, Ants Climbing a Log, and Ants Creeping up a Tree. My fun-loving side just couldn't resist!

The cooked dish really did look like it was dotted with 'ants', mimicked by the browned ground beef. I didn't exactly manage to recreate a 'tree' on my plate, so the ants had to climb a little hill of noodles. Oh wait, there were some green onion 'trees' perched on top of the hill, maybe this dish could be called Ants Creeping up a Tree on a Hill instead.

I even managed a shot of an ant scurrying curiously near my plate of noodles, probably enticed by the wonderful aroma.
Upon closer inspection, the ant seemed to be dancing
The dish must've passed by his Sichuan standards :-)

Penny of Jeroxie blog is as always, our lovely virtual host for the IIP. Thank you again for your efforts and generosity of spirit, Penny. This post and song (below) is for you and in memory of your father.

For a long time, I used to think Sarah McLachlan sang this song so perfectly on her own. But then she threw in Josh Groban and since then, I have always liked this version the best. I hope you like it too :-).


Ants Climbing a Tree (Sichuan Spicy Stir-Fried Vermicelli with Beef and Mushrooms)
Serves: 2
Ingredients:
114g (4 oz) vermicelli or glass noodles
5 Shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly.
225g (1/2 lb) ground beef

Marinade:
1 tablespoon light soy sauce or Kikkoman
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Pinch of cornstarch

Other:
1 small red chilli pepper and 1 teaspoon chili sauce, or 1 tablespoon chili sauce
2 slices ginger
2 green onions
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Method:
1. Without removing the string wrapping around the transparent noodles, soak in hot water until they are pliable (about 5 minutes). Drain well. Cut the noodles into shorter lengths and then remove the string wrapping.
2. Add the marinade ingredients to the ground beef, adding the cornstarch last. Marinate the beef for 15 minutes.
3. If using the chilli pepper, cut in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and chop coarsely. Finely chop the ginger. Cut the green onion on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat.
4. Add 2 tablespoons oil to the heated wok. Add the marinated beef. Stir-fry until the beef has changed color and is nearly cooked through. Remove from the wok. Clean out the wok.
5. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the wok. Add the chili pepper and ginger. Stir-fry briefly until aromatic. Add the sliced mushrooms. Stir-fry briefly, then stir in the chilli sauce and the noodles. Add the reserved chicken or vegetable broth in the middle of the wok. Return the ground beef to the pan and stir in the green onion. Mix everything together and cook briefly. Make sure the beef is cooked through before serving.


33 comments:

Lisa~~ said...

I adore Sichuan foods and this looks delicious and easy to prepare. Lovely!!

Lisa~~
Cook Lisa Cook

Alina---Explora Cuisine said...

I was looking for a recipe like this one for a while now, looks awesome Maya! and the song, ohhh, I love Sarah Mclachlan, I think she's one of the best singers out there! I totally love "Answer" :) hope you're having a great week!

yummychunklet said...

Looks and sounds delicious!

elle marie said...

Love, love the dish but that spider is TOOOO close for comfort!

Maureen said...

I love the name of this! I want to make it so I can tell people what it is. :)

Foodness Gracious said...

I love sichuan food and the spicier the better if you ask me, some like it hot but I like it extra hot. Thanks for sharing and as always a great post..

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite said...

I love the name too and had I come across that recipe, I would not have been able to resist either. You did a great job and your dancing ant is priceless.

penny aka jeroxie said...

OMG... a dancing ant? You just crack me up when I needed a lift. Thank you very much

GourmetGetaways said...

I love the name of this dish! ...and how bizarre to have an ant jigging along beside it!

The photos are just gorgeous,m well done, makes me hungry all over again!

leaf (the indolent cook) said...

I've always adored the name of this dish too. Plus it's delicious! :D

PFx said...

There must be a sichuan flavour in the air. I, myself, am craving for one.
And how about that ant, you know some people eat ants right? You may add it to your stir fry perhaps? I actually tried making ants soup once in Indonesia (just like in the kung fu movie). Didn't taste much.
Hey, lovely presentation with the plate and all. Like a posh intercontinental breakfast in a hotel.

Victoria said...

Haha I love that there was an actual ant that came to check out your dish! The name is so fun, I can definitely see why you selected this dish. I also love the plate that you served it on! So pretty!

Trix said...

Of course you chose something playful - that's what I love about you! (Well, one of the things anyway.) A sweet song for Penny and her father, very touching. xoxo

Sandra said...

:)) ants...wonderful pictures and I love this dish...very comforting and delicious recipe..spicy is always welcome if ask me!:))

Adora's Box said...

I love these poetic Chinese titles for food. You'll never imagine what they refer to. Lovely noodle dish. Never had this before so maybe I should try your recipe. Once again wowed by the photos.

Magic of Spice said...

What a fun title! This noodle dish is so pretty...all things chili and ginger are good for me :)

Michael Toa said...

I was so confused when I read the title. But it all makes sense now!! I have some many friends coming unannounced, I feel like moving and not telling them (just kidding). Normally they stop by just before dinner time. I wonder why? :)
The Sichuan noodle looks delicious. I am always scared of Sichuan dishes just in case if it's really spicy. I can only tolerate certain amount of heat.

Foodiva said...

Alina, this dish I dead easy and delicious to boot! And yes, Sarah's voice is the best, almost angelic.

Foodiva said...

Elle Marie, that scrawny spider-looking insect is an ant...LOL.

Foodiva said...

Maureen, that's why I made it. It tickles me to say the name of the dish! ;-)

Foodiva said...

Foodness Gracious, I like extra hot stuff, but only from a distance :-).

Foodiva said...

Mardi, it took me a while of surfing around to stumble upon this recipe but once I saw it, I knew it was for me! The ant was a bonus. I think my kitchen needs a visit from the exterminator soon.

Foodiva said...

Penny, I'm so glad the post made you smile. You take good care of yourself, girl! Warm hugs all over, xoxo.

Foodiva said...

Pierre@PFx, welcome to the Foodiva Hotel! No star rating to speak of (yet), but always serving up great food here ;-). Yes, I do know ants are considered delicacies in some places, unfortunately my kitchen ants don't taste all that yummy.... Kudos for your ants soup, please share the recipe sometime!

Foodiva said...

Victoria, thanks sweetie. That leaf plate has little matching leaf bowls for sauces and condiments, and the set is as old as time. It was a wedding gift!

Foodiva said...

Trix, Sandra, Adora and Alisha, a BIG thank you! You all know me so well by now :-)

Foodiva said...

Michael, confused? You didn't think I was beyond cooking ants, did you? ;-) Well, I'm not but I need to figure out the best recipe to include them in! LOL.

Can't believe you're from Medan with all that fantastic spicy, Padang food...and you can't take much heat! Good thing you're now living in colder climes...

Ann said...

Absolutely stunning...I'd say you handled this beautifully!

Foodiva said...

Why, thank you, Ann. I'm happy the way it all turned out, right down to the dancing ant! LOL.

Gina said...

I'd be dancing too if someone fixed me this. Love the plate you found. I love the new look you have over here. Hope you have a wonderful weekend.
-Gina-

Cheap Ethnic Eatz said...

What an interesting name for a dish, and to have an ant walk by lol. It looks really good and enough to feed EVERYBODY.

Foodiva said...

Gina, the plate actually found ME...it was a wedding gift, nearly an antique! See, you go camping for a week and I changed my identity. Glad you saw through me, though :-).

Foodiva said...

Evelyne@CEE, that ant was PAID to model for that shot! Paid with Sichuan ants...LOL

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