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This is what happens when the grocery store pickup service makes a noodle substitution. And I’m very happy about it. These are mung bean noodles that go by various names: Saifun or bean threads or glass noodles or cellophane noodles. They are gluten-free. I received two packages and have made lunch three times so far. Please, no scoffing. I will be the first to acknowledge I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do know what I like and I like what I’ve done with these noodles. There are many recipes online for Ants Climbing a Tree and I started with the one at Saveur. The recipe then morphed because I couldn’t get the ingredients called for and that caused me to improvise.

  • Ingredients
  • 4 oz. (approximate) Chinese dried bean thread noodles*
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1/4 lb. ground pork
  • 1 3-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3 Tbsp. Chinese bean sauce or oyster sauce**
  • 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided (I use the low-sodium version)
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 scallions, sliced

Cover noodles with boiling water and let stand for 4 minutes to soften. Drain and stir in sesame oil.

In a 12″ frying pan, heat canola oil and stir fry ground pork until cooked. Stir in ginger and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, another minute or two.

Stir in red pepper flakes, bean or oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then stir in noodles. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced by half. Stir in 2 Tbsp. soy sauce and scallions. Serve warm.

Yield: 2 bowls

*I am seeing these sold in bundles and 4 oz. is 2 bundles. The packages I most recently purchased had three bundles, so I used two bundles each time I made this. What surprises me about these noodles is how well they stand up to the cooking process. They’re not mushy after all the softening and simmering. Amazing.

**The recipe calls for NO red pepper flakes and instead Chinese red chile bean paste. But I couldn’t find that. So the first couple times I made this using oyster sauce and red pepper flakes. Delicious. The next time I made this I had found Chinese bean sauce, but it’s not spicy. Oy! So, I kept using the red pepper flakes to spice things up a bit. Still Delicious! So there!

This is what I used as pictured. When I used oyster sauce, the color of the dish was much lighter, but still full of great flavor.