January 27, 2003
Ants on a Log

Actually, the dish is called Ants in a Tree. But given the fact that the finished product, while delicious, resembled neither ants nor tree nor log, I feel I'm entitled to call it whatever I like.

For some odd reason, we had cellophane noodles and ground pork in the house. All we really needed to make Sara Moulton's Ants in a Tree (from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home) was some Napa cabbage and a bit of spice. The recipe is really quite simple, and its quasi-Chinese flavorings made it quite a refreshing change from our standard Continental repertoire. The only thing I would change next time around is the amount of fat -- while I'm hardly a fat-phobe, I found that the rendered pork fat and added oil left the noodles a bit greasier than I would have liked. On the other hand, Carl had no complaints.

Sara Moulton's Ants in a Tree

1/2 lb. cellophane noodles (bean threads)
1 lb. ground pork
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 Tb. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
6 scallions, thinly sliced
3 Tb. vegetable oil
One 2-in piec ginger, grated finely
4 minced garlic cloves
1 Tb. Asian chile paste
2 c. shredded Napa cabbage
2/3 c. chicken stock

Boil noodles for 1-2 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under running water.
Mix pork with 2 Tb soy sauce, sesame oil, cornstarch, and half the scallions in a small bowl.
In a wok or large skillet, heat the vegetable oil, and add the ginger, garlic, and chile paste. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add pork mixture and cook for 1 minute. Stir in cabbage and the remaining 2 Tb. soy sauce. Cook 2 min, or until cabbage is almost wilted. Add cooked noodles and cook until the pork is no longer pink. Add chicken stock and remaining scallions, seasion with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low, cover pan loosely with foil, and simmer about 3 minutes or until noodles have absorbed some of the stock.