There is a simple but well known Shanghainese dish called Ants Climbing a Tree (蚂蚁上树,) which is a vermicelli stir-fry with minced pork. I have made this dish countless times since adolescence because it is easy and delicious. Since I don’t have the special bean paste (豆瓣酱) that is traditionally a required ingredient in the dish, I gave it a Southeast Asian twist today.
I served the salad to chef Duyen for dinner, and she really enjoyed it. At work, she has always taken such good care of me. I am happy that on my day off I could make something for her.
For dessert, I served us my now pretty famous healthy chocolate fudge. This time, I used 1/3 cup ground coconut meat instead 1/4 cup. And it tasted even more delicious.
Speaking of Chef Duyen, at the end of the blog I will share some pictures of my work lunch from yesterday. They were Mango Papaya Salad with Duck and Seafood Stew. I loved the fancy water that she made me. For 30 minutes during lunch break, I was transported to a resort somewhere by the fragrant water. However, I paid for the indulgence soon after. The delicious lunch sent me into such a food coma that I couldn’t remember the simple lines that I had performed perfectly time and again before the break in other angles. That was truly embarrassing.
Warm Vermicelli Salad with Minced Pork and Prawns
Ingredients for salad:
100 g dry Mung bean noodle (also known as vermicelli)
2 red bird’s eye chili peppers, seeded and sliced (leave the seeds in if you like it very hot)
2 green chili peppers, seeded and sliced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed
5 small Thai red onions or shallots, thinly sliced and separated
3 tablespoon cilantro or coriander leaves
1/2 or more carrot, thinly sliced
3/4 scant cup minced pork
10 to 12 prawns (deveined and poached)
1 tablespoon or more cooking oil
1/4 to 1/3 cup water or stock
Chopped spring onion and cilantro for garnish
Butter lettuce leaves for serving, optional
Ingredients for minced pork marinade:
1 tablespoon cooking wine (I used Shao Xing cooking wine)
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon corn starch
Ingredients for dressing:
2 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
2 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
Soak Mung bean noodle in warm water for about 10 minutes. Drain when soft and set aside.
Marinate the minced pork, mixing everything with your hand. Set in the fridge for 20 minutes or so when you prepare the vegetables.
Heat oil in a wok or pan on medium high heat. Stir fry chili peppers, garlic and half of the sliced Thai red onion until aromatic, about a 1minute or 2.
Add minced meat and stir for another minute or 2. Make sure you break the minced meat as you cook so it’s in small lumps, not large lumps.
When the pork has turned color, add the noodle and stir for a minute. Pour in 1/4 cup water and let cook for another minute. The water should be absorbed very quickly, and when it does turn off stove.
Add cooked prawns and the dressing. Toss to coat. Add the 2nd half of the sliced Thai red onion or shallots, the cilantro leaves and the sliced carrot, toss some more to mix.
Serve warm or cold in plates, bowls or lettuce cups. This dish can be a main course or an appetizer.
Note for blanching the prawns:
I always prepare the prawns by squeeze them for a minute or two with a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of Shao Xing cooking wine. I let them sit in the salt and wine while boiling a pot of water with a few generous slices of ginger. When the water is boiling, I add the prawns with the marinade into the water. The water boils again and the prawns turn pink, drain the water and let the prawn cool.