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Ants Climbing a Tree

This one is for spice and noodles lovers, and it’s quick and easy too

We find that the recipes we make over and over again rely on only one key ingredient to make them shine.

In Ants Climbing a Tree, it’s the dou ban jeung.

A umami-packed paste made from fermented chilli and broad beans, it’s the hoisin sauce of Sichuanese cooking and features in four recipes in our book. Coming from a couple of Cantonese girls, that’s a sound endorsement. And even more so, our mum keeps a jar of it around too!

As the more obscure ingredients grow in popularity, so do their availability in mainstream shops. These days we can pick up a jar in our local supermarket, labelled as chilli bean sauce. Otherwise, a trip to the Chinese supermarket should reward you with a variety to choose from. The ones made in Pixian are the most authentic, and may require a quick chop through on a chopping board to break up the whole broad beans and larger pieces of chilli.

A few years back, Fuchsia Dunlop, the UK’s sweetheart of Sichuanese cooking, blogged about the brands that she found in London’s Chinatown. It’s worth having a scan through the comments to see where people are finding dou ban jeung locally throughout the UK and beyond.

Finally, watch the video to learn about the origins of the quirky name for this dish – luckily it’s nowhere near as unsettling as it might sound!

Serves
2 on its own, or 4 with rice
Ingredients

100g vermicelli or glass noodles
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1-2 tablespoon chilli bean sauce (more if you like it hot)
150g pork mince
450ml chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
4 spring onions, sliced

We find that the recipes we make over and over again rely on only one key ingredient to make them shine.

In Ants Climbing a Tree, it’s the dou ban jeung.

A umami-packed paste made from fermented chilli and broad beans, it’s the hoisin sauce of Sichuanese cooking and features in four recipes in our book. Coming from a couple of Cantonese girls, that’s a sound endorsement. And even more so, our mum keeps a jar of it around too!

As the more obscure ingredients grow in popularity, so do their availability in mainstream shops. These days we can pick up a jar in our local supermarket, labelled as chilli bean sauce. Otherwise, a trip to the Chinese supermarket should reward you with a variety to choose from. The ones made in Pixian are the most authentic, and may require a quick chop through on a chopping board to break up the whole broad beans and larger pieces of chilli.

A few years back, Fuchsia Dunlop, the UK’s sweetheart of Sichuanese cooking, blogged about the brands that she found in London’s Chinatown. It’s worth having a scan through the comments to see where people are finding dou ban jeung locally throughout the UK and beyond.

Finally, watch the video to learn about the origins of the quirky name for this dish – luckily it’s nowhere near as unsettling as it might sound!

GET THE METHOD →

Soak the noodles in cold water for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly fry the ginger in the oil over a medium heat until fragrant.
Add the the chilli bean sauce and cook until the ruby red oils separate out.
Add the pork mince and stir-fry for a few minutes to cook through.
Add the chicken stock, light soy, dark soy and sugar, and bring to a boil
Drain the noodles and add to the spicy broth, along with the spring onions. Stir everything together until the liquid is absorbed, and serve.
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