Ants climbing trees


I cook this at least once a week. If I have minced/ground meat in the refrigerator, I’m usually inclined to head East just before I get to spaghetti bolognaise and this is frequently where I end up, a fragrant, umami minced/ground meat and noodle tangle, the look of which gives the dish its evocative name. I usually throw in some chopped green beans to cook with the meat if I have them in. This ticks the ‘health’ box which, for me, appears woefully lower in priority than the one labelled ‘flavour’. For extra citrus, mindnumbing punch, add a teaspoon of whole Szechuan peppercorns into the meat as it fries.

Prep: 25 minutes, plus soaking
Cook: 25 minutes


  • 125 g/ oz minced/ground pork
  • ½ tsp light soy sauce
  • ½ tsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 125 g/ oz fine rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 spring onions/scallions, finely chopped, green parts reserved and sliced
  • 1 tsp chilli bean paste
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander/cilantro leaves

The Shaoxing Wine Sauce

  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 240 ml/8 fl oz/1 cup chicken stock


Mix the pork with the soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Soak the noodles in hot water for 10 minutes until limp, then drain

Heat a wok over a high heat and add the oil. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for 10 seconds. Add the pork and stir-fry, mashing and separating it. It needs to brown and this should take around 10 minutes. Now add the spring onions/scallions and chilli paste and stir-fry for a few seconds.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients. Now pour the sauce into the meat and toss the ingredients together well.

Add the noodles to the meat sauce mix and return the dish to a medium-high heat. It needs to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for a further 5 minutes until the noodles become soft and infused with flavour. Most of the liquid will need to evaporate.

Serve sprinkled with the sliced spring onion/scallion greens and coriander/cilantro leaves.