Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Simple and Delicious Traditional Chinese Noodle Dish - Ma Yi Shang Shu

The name Ma Yi Shang Shu literally translates to "ants climbing a tree", but there are no ants or trees involved. My mom has been making this dish for at least 30 years. It is a true and tried recipe. I have loved the taste of this dish since I was a young girl. My sisters and I used to fight over the last few morsels of this dish. The recipe is courtesy of Grandma(my mom). The dish takes less than 30 minutes to prep and cook. The only caviat is that you MUST use bean thread vermicelli, not rice vermicelli which is a mistake I made the first time I attempted to make this dish. The bean thread vermicelli will absorb all the liquid that is called for in the recipe. When I used the rice vermicelli, the dish was tasty, but we had soup, not a noodle dish. So, learn from my mistake and use bean thread vermicelli. This vermicelli can be found in any Asian store. Grandma told me to look for the red dragon on the package so there would be no mistake.


  • 2 bundles of bean thread vermicelli
  • 6 oz of ground pork
  • 1tbsp of soy
  • 1tbsp of rice wine
  • 1tsp of sesame oil
  • 3 green onion finely chopped
  • 1 tsp of finely grated ginger, use a microplane grater
  • 1 1/2 tsp of chili hot paste (if you want it extra spicy, add more of the chili paste)
  • 1 tbsp of minced garlic
  • 2 cups of chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp of soy
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of cornstarch
  • white pepper (DO NOT SUBSTITUTE WITH BLACK PEPPER-its a totally different taste)
  • canola oil


  1. Marinade the pork in the soy, rice wine and sesame oil as you prepare the other ingredients.
  2. Combine the seasonings which are 2/3 of the green onion, ginger, garlic and chili paste and set aside. The rest of the chopped green onion will be used later.
  3. Combine the stock, soy, salt, sugar and cornstarch.
  4. Place the bean thread vermicelli in a large mixing bowl and add enough hot water to cover the bundles. They should soft immediately, if not leave them for a minutes. Remove from the water and set aside.
  5. Coat the bottom of a wok or deep sided skllet with oil and cook the ground pork. As the pork cooks, make sure you break up any large clumps with your cooking utensils. Once it is thoroughly cooked, which should be about 5 minutes, move the meat to one side of the pan.
  6. Add the seasonings and cook until fragrant. Then mix the meat into the seasonings and continue to cook for a minute.
  7. Add the soften bean vermicelli and thoroughly mix into the meat and seasonings.
  8. Stir your mixed stock and add to the pan. Bring it to a quick boil and reduce the heat. Continue to cook uncovered until the liquid is all absorbed. It should take about 5 minutes or so. Give the noodles a stir once in a while. Once all the liquid is absorbed, the dish is ready.
  9. Put in a serving dish, sprinkle with white pepper and throw the saved chopped green onion on. Its ready to serve.

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