Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ants in Trees

This sounds like the beginning of a great Anansi story but it is actually a recipe my mother-in-law taught me when Malika was born. In one Chinese cookbook it is given the fanciful name "Ants Climbing a Tree" presumably because when it is cooked, tiny balls of ground meat (ants) stick to each bean thread (the tree). This dish is a family favorite and I have made it in every city we have lived in: Milwaukee, Chicago, Bangkok, and now, New York. I haven't quite set up the kitchen the way I like so there's some improvisation!
The ingredients: note the steak knife used to chop vegetables!
1 pound ground meat
2 bundles of bean threads
2 eggs,  lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks scallion, sliced
2 tablespoons oil
Soy sauce, salt, and pepper to taste
Scallion and cilantro for garnish, if desired

Soak the bean threads in warm water until the bundles loosen and begin to feel limp. Drain well.

Over high heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and scallion and fry until fragrant. Add the ground meat and cook until no longer pink. Season to taste with soy sauce, salt, and pepper.
Soaked bean threads added to meat mixture
Add the bean threads and toss to coat thoroughly. Pour the egg all over and toss  to coat until the eggs are thoroughly cooked and no longer shiny. Adjust seasoning if desired.
Beaten eggs added to the meat-bean thread mixture
 Serve over steamed rice. Garnish with scallion and cilantro if desired.
Result: one pot meal

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