Ants climbing a tree

Fried glass noodles in a wok with minced pork and herbsI’ll be the first to admit “ants climbing a tree” doesn’t sound very appetizing. Fortunately there are no actual ants in this delicious noodle dish, just tasty bits of minced pork and herbs clinging to the “trees” of noodles. My whole family, even the picky toddler, loves this dish. The only problem is, I keep making prodigious quantities expecting enough leftovers for another proper meal – and I’m lucky if I get a few noodles clinging to the pan. Oh well… there are worse problems.

I originally got this recipe from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen by Laura B. Russell, which may be my favourite gluten-free cookbook. However, I have adapted it – partly to be low-FODMAP and partly to make it easier – so I no longer follow it very exactly. Here’s my version. It’s super quick and easy, so it makes a great lunch. We had this for Sunday lunch on our “China” weekend.

Ants Climbing a Tree

Should be enough to serve about six in theory but four may be more realistic

  • 1 good-sized package (I think mine was about 400 grams) potato noodles or glass noodles (AKA mung bean noodles, bean thread noodles, cellophane noodles) – I prefer using potato noodles (AKA jap chae noodles) because they’re usually a little thicker and chewier but glass noodles are great in this dish too. I would advise against substituting rice noodles if you can help it, because they aren’t as sticky and the pork and herbs won’t cling as nicely.
  • 1 package (about 500 grams) lean or extra lean ground pork – if you can’t get lean ground pork, fry the pork first and drain the fat before you add anything else. Otherwise you’ll get greasy noodles.
  • Sesame oil, for frying
  • Good-sized bunch chives (20-30 grams should do it), minced
  • Good-sized handful of fresh coriander, chopped. (I remove the long part bit of the stem before the lowest leaves but chop the rest of the stem with the leaves.)
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1-2 tablespoons sake
  • 2-4 tablespoons gluten-free soy sauce/tamari
  • Heaping tablespoon miso paste, dissolved in a little hot water
  • 1 cup or so low-FODMAP chicken broth (homemade is best)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Crushed hot chilli flakes, to taste
  • Lime wedges for serving
  1. Soak the noodles in a bowl of hot tap water until softened, about 15 minutes.
  2. Heat a little sesame oil in a large wok. Add the pork, sake, and about one tablespoon of the soy sauce. Fry, breaking up chunks, until pork is nicely browned. Drain fat if necessary.
  3. Add the ginger, noodles, miso paste, chicken broth, and another 1-3 tablespoons soy sauce/tamari. (How much you use will depend not only on your taste but also on how concentrated the soy sauce you use is. You will use less “double strength” soy sauce or sushi/sashimi soy sauce; more “light” soy sauce.)
  4. Simmer until the noodles are tender but not mushy, about 3-5 minutes. You want the noodles to absorb most of the sauce but not all of it. If the noodles get too sticky (you want them just sticky enough the bits will cling to them) and there isn’t enough liquid, add a little more chicken broth.
  5. Turn off the heat and add the chives, coriander, black pepper and chilli flakes (unless you have small picky children, in which case you may have to add the chilli to your own plate). Stir through, then serve with a squeeze of lime.

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