I am very proud to have learnt how to make this very traditional dish of my Papa’s heritage. This is certainly the most important and iconic dish of the Hakka people. It is very similar to a gnocchi with us using yam/taro instead of potato. It’s interesting name of abacus seeds is due to the fact that the little dough balls looks like the beads on the abacus, and it signifies good luck and wealth. This is also one of my Mom’s signature dish and we will have it on almost every special occasion and Chinese New Year. You can’t really find this anywhere in Singapore as this is a dish that is time consuming and very tedious. It took me a few hours to make them and my arms are so tired from the mixing and kneading. This has made me appreciate my mom more, despite so tedious, she will always make this for us as everyone loves it. I tried to replicate her dish while adding my own flavours and it turned out amazing! The texture of the abacus seeds were perfect and i love the flavours and textures of the whole dish!
- For the dough:
- 600g cubed/thinly sliced yam/taro (weight is after skinning and cutting)
- 300g tapioca flour
- 150ml hot water
- Drizzle of olive oil
- A couple pinches of salt
- For the stir fry:
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4-5 shallots, sliced
- 5 shitake mushrooms, soaked till soft (reserve some of the water)
- 5 water chestnuts, chopped
- 250g minced pork
- Spring onions, chopped
- 2 red chillies, sliced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- Black pepper
- Steam yam/taro over high heat until fork tender. Mash while it is very hot.
- Add in flour and half of the hot water. Mix and knead.
- Add in the other half of water, oil and salt, and mix until smooth.
- Form little balls of dough, press gently with a wet index finger to make an indentation.
- In a pot of boiling water, cook the abacus seeds until they float. Drain, mix with some olive oil to prevent sticking and set aside.
- In a hot wok, saute garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add in mushrooms and fry until it starts to soften.
- Add in pork and brown. When pork is almost cooked, add in water chestnuts and fry briefly.
- Add in abacus seeds, and all the sauces and seasonings. Add 2 splashes of mushroom water.
- Add in spring onions, coriander and chillies and fry briefly until liquid is reduced.
- Ready to serve.
*Note: I used about 20-25 abacus seeds per person. I froze the rest of it. This is actually a very fast and easy dish if you have frozen abacus seeds on hand 🙂