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Ants on a tree

November 4, 2009

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Serves 3 (including 1 child)

“Hungry Monkey’’ author Matthew Amster-Burton writes that this Chinese dish is his family’s favorite dinner. Cellophane noodles are the trees, the ground pork in a dark soy sauce looks like ants, and the dish is loaded with red chili and Szechuan peppercorns (you can omit these and the dish is still terrific).

8 ounces ground pork
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon hot bean paste
1 teaspoon cornstarch
8 ounces cellophane noodles (bean threads)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 red jalapeno or other small chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground Szechuan peppercorns (optional)
1. In a bowl, combine the pork, 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce, the sugar, bean paste, and cornstarch. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

2. In another bowl, place the noodles and add enough boiling water to cover them. Use chopsticks to stir the noodles in the water. Set aside for 5 minutes; drain into a colander.

3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. When it is hot, add the scallions and jalapeno or other chili. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add the pork and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes or until it is no longer pink.

4. Add the chicken stock, remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and Szechuan peppercorns, if using. Bring to a boil. Add the noodles and toss well.

5. Divide the noodles among 3 bowls. Adapted from “Hungry Monkey’’