Friday, January 24, 2014

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds [客家算盘子]

Yam Gnocchi / Chinese New Year
 Yam Gnocchi / Chinese New Year

For the abacus seed dough:
1 small yam - about 510g (yields 460g mashed yam)
100g tapioca flour
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt

  • Cut yam into cubes and steam until soft enough to be mashed.
  • Add salt and oil into the hot yam and mash with a fork.  Gradually knead in tapioca flour using your hand until it forms a pliable dough and doesn't stick.
  • Cut yam dough into 4 pieces.  Cover dough to prevent from drying out.  Gently roll each piece to form a log.  Cut each log into small pieces.  Take a small piece and roll into a ball.  Then press your thumb and index finger into the centre of the ball to form an indentation.  Place the 'abacus seeds' on a tray lined with baking paper (abacus seeds can be frozen at this stage)
  • Bring a pot of water with 1/2 tsp salt to the boil.  Put in a batch of the abacus seeds.  As they cooked, the abacus seeds will rise to the surface.
  • Remove with slotted spatula and drain well.  Toss the abacus seeds with a little oil to prevent them from sticking together.  Repeat with remaining abacus seeds.

For the frying:
1 tsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
4 dried shiitake mushroom (soaked until softened, thinly sliced)
1/2 carrot, minced
1 piece firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 tbsp dried shrimps (soaked and chopped finely)
salt & pepper, to taste
fish sauce, to taste
coriander leaves, for garnishing

  • Heat oil in a wok, lightly brown the tofu.  Set aside.
  • Saute shallot and garlic until fragrant.  Add in dried shrimps, shiitake mushroom and fry until aromatic.  Then add in carrot and a splash of water.  Cook for about 2 minutes.  
  • Toss in the cooked yam abacus seeds and tofu. Add in sesame oil.
  • Season with salt, pepper and fish sauce.  Continue frying for 2 minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately.

* Once frozen, the abacus seeds can be transferred into a plastic bag.  They can be frozen up to at least a month.  Cook frozen abacus seeds in boiling water before frying (no need to thaw).


  1. Hi Veronica
    This is quite torturing seeing this dish early in the morning when Im about to have my boring breakfast.... I would love to give this a try one day. I always thought this dish is quite troublesome to prepare though I have come across few bloggers have posted their abacus dish. Seriously speaking, I have never eaten this dish before.

  2. This is in my to do list since last year..
    Yours look really yummy. Inspired me to make this ASAP !

  3. After seeing this, you make me feel like eating this dish straightaway.... Gosh ,

  4. I'd love this dish, bookmarked but don't know when will I attempt it :)

  5. Oh for a minute I thought that there was a new item called abacus seeds! I was just thinking "wow that's new!" :P They're so cute!

  6. Wow, you are definitely a very talented person, all your cooking looks professionally done.
    "Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year to you and family"

  7. These look soo yummy...!! I have never tried yam abacus seeds before but I can imagine that I would love these as I love foods with chewy texture like mochi and bubble tea ;). Great blog with delicious recipes, by the way :)!


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