When I was growing up in Malawi, we used to go to a Chinese restaurant and this was one of the items we used to always have. I don’t know why it has this name but I guess that is part of the novelty of having this fun snack / starter / side dish. After many years, I made it last summer when my older sister and nieces came for the summer from Hong Kong. We just went by memory and recreated it but later I found a recipe from an old recipe file, which had cabbage and carrots in it also. It is a messy but fun dish to eat, kind of like Mexican tacos. All the same it is a good recipe to share with friends and family. Perhaps you can serve this dish as a self service meal, that way the lettuce leaves will not become soggy and people can have the amount of filling and garnish they want.
Ants on Trees
Like I mentioned above you don’t have to follow what I have done, you can put any vegetables into the lettuce leaves, or you can also perhaps add some soya mince. Try and use lettuce which is going to remain crispy i.e. iceberg, little gems or Romanian.
Preparation time: 10 mins Cooking time: 10 mins Serves: 4
1 large onion sliced
1 cup sliced mixed capsicums (red, green and yellow)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
2 little gem lettuce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 tbsp chilli garlic sauce
a handful of rice noodles
1 tbsp roasted sesame oil
oil for frying
1) Slice all the vegetables, heat a wok or sauce pan for a few minutes and add the sesame oil and all the vegetables, stirring constantly, add the soy sauce, spice mix and the chilli and garlic sauce.
2) Cook for about 5 minutes, so as the vegetables are a little tender and there is not much liquid, remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
3) Heat the oil for frying on a medium heat, place small amounts of the rice noodles in the oil and fry, it will take about 1 or 2 minutes, drain on kitchen paper and continue until all the required noodles have been fried.
4) On washed and dried lettuce leaves, place some of the vegetable mixture and a small amount of the fried rice noodles and you are ready to enjoy, have fun 😉