Ants in Trees – Ma Yi Shang Shu

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A Simple and Delicious Recipe for Ants in Trees

Ants in Trees is a classic Szechuan dish that has a unique name due to its appearance. It is a delicious and easy to make meal that combines Chinese glass noodles, seasoning, and ground meat all stir-fried together. This simple recipe will show you how to make this tasty dish right in your own kitchen!

Ants Climbing a Tree, or Ma La Xiao Chang, is one of the classic dishes of Chinese cuisine originating from the Sichuan province. The dish gets its unique name because of its appearance — strands of glass noodles stir fried with ground meat and seasoned with chili peppers, scallions, and other ingredients create a “tree” that the “ants” (the ground meat) appear to be climbing.

The dish is said to have first been created in the 1940s during the Sino-Japanese war. In Sichuan, food was scarce and some chefs experimented with whatever ingredients were available to them at the time. The dish quickly gained popularity and has been a staple ever since.

Ants in Trees is also well known for its spiciness and bold flavors. It usually consists of glass noodles (also known as bean thread or cellophane noodles), ground pork or beef, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, Sichuan peppercorn, chili peppers, scallions, and bean paste. The noodles are stir-fried until tender and combined with the other ingredients to create a savory, spicy dish that is full of flavor.

Today, Ants Climbing a Tree remains one of the most popular dishes of Chinese cuisine. It can be found on menus all over China and in many Chinese restaurants throughout the world. This simple yet flavorful recipe is sure to become a favorite in your household as well!

Serve this with some crispy Ragoons, Soybean Sprout Soup or some crunchy Mushroom Spring Rolls.


Ants in Trees – Ma Yi Shang Shu

glass noodle with pork spicy salad and lettuce on plate 220843655

A easy recipe for Ants in Trees dish. Ants Climbing a Tree – Chinese glass noodle stir fried with seasoning and ground meat is one of the classic Sezchuan dishes that get its unique name because of its appearance.

  • Author: Alton Brown
  • Prep Time: :20
  • Cook Time: :10
  • Total Time: :30
  • Yield: 4 1x
  • Category: Main
  • Method: Stove Top / Instapot
  • Cuisine: Szechuan


Units Scale


  1. Soak the noodles in enough hot water to cover by 1 inch for 20 minutes. Use kitchen shears to cut the noodles into 3 to 4-inch pieces and drain thoroughly in a colander for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the soy sauce, rice wine, and sambal chili paste in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the cornstarch and whisk until combined. Add the pork and mix until thoroughly integrated. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Place a 12-inch saute pan over high heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Once the oil shimmers, add the meat mixture. Stir constantly for 2 minutes, breaking the meat up into very small pieces. Add 2/3 of the green onions and continue cooking and stirring until the meat is well browned and in very small pieces, approximately 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the chicken broth. Cook until reduced, approximately 3 minutes.
  4. Slowly add handfuls of the noodles to the pan, tossing with the meat mixture until combined and the pieces of meat cling to the noodles and no liquid remains. Serve immediately with the remaining green onions.


  • Serving Size: 4
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