RECIPE: Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds (Suen Poon Chi, 算盘子) stir-fry with vegetables

RECIPE: Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds (Suen Poon Chi, 算盘子) stir-fry with vegetables

hakka abacus 3Lunar New Year to Orientals is like Christmas to Westerners. It is the most beloved and anticipated festival of the year. When I was a kid, I looked forward to buying and wearing new clothes, playing with my cousins, visiting relatives, receiving angpao (red envelopes/ 紅包) and eating all sorts of cookies.

Now, I most look forward to have special dishes with my family. My absolute favourite (and my signature dish) is Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds or Suen Poon Chi (算盘子). It’s a classic but rare Hakka food is only normally available at Hakka restaurants.

However whenever I order this dish at the restaurant, I’ll be sorely disappointed. Probably because yam can be rather costly, the amount of yam used is too little to my liking. Once I took my Mom to a Hakka restaurant, and when she tasted this dish, she said “I can’t taste the yam at all. Yours is so much better!” (Note: My mom rather praises my food because she expects food to be good). But because the process of making the yam abacus beads is so tedious, I only make it once a year. Which is why this dish is so special for me and my family.


WHAT IS HAKKA TARO ABACUS SEEDS

Yam abacus beads are made from yam and tapioca starch. The dough is formed into flat discs that resembles beads in the Chinese abacus (Suen Poon 算盘). This dish it made during Chinese New Year to bring in wealth and luck.

This recipe is one of my dearest; everybody who tastes this, loved it. I try to avoid using MSG in my daily cooking. Instead I imitate umami flavour with ingredients which contains natural glutamate. Hence, I included dried shrimps, dried cuttlefish and dried Chinese mushrooms. The complex combination flavour, colour and texture makes this dish superbly delicious and appetising.

Hakka Abacus 9

INGREDIENTS

ABACUS BEADS
300g yam, cubed
100g tapioca flour
1/4 cup hot water

STIR-FRY INGREDIENTS
6 dried Shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp dried shrimp
1 tbsp sliced dried cuttlefish
4 sprigs cilantro
4 green onions
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp chopped shallots
2 tsp minced garlic
1 large carrot

SEASONINGS
1 tbsp oyster sauce
4 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp five spice powder
1/8 tsp white pepper

CLICK FOR  INSTRUCTIONS TO MAKE  HAKKA YAM ABACUS

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