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Monday, 21 July 2014

Yam Abacus Beads 算盘子

I love to eat yam (another word for yam is taro).  What about you?  There are so many delicacies that can be made with yam such as bubur cha cha, woo kok, woo tao koh, orh nee,  stir fry with pork belly.......etc...etc....

Seriously I never heard of Yam Abacus Beads until I watched one cooking/travelling show on TV.  Aigh....eventhough I'm a Malaysian and yet was so ignorant of this delicious delicacies available here in the country.

I've never eaten this before and love to give this a try and see how it goes but I'm sure I would love this lots.

Yam Abacus Beads 算盘子 (Yam Gnocchi Fry in Dried Shrimps & Woods ear) 
Recipe sourced from Billy Law (A Table For Two) 

Abacus beads
500g taro, sliced into cubes
80g tapioca flour, plus extra for dusting
A pinch of salt

Few tablespoons of hot water
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 

For Stir Fry Abacus Beads 
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
A small knob (5 gram) ginger, peeled then julienned
120g water chestnuts, cut into cubes  (I forgot to add this)
30g dried shrimp, soaked in hot water
1 medium dried squid, soaked and thinly sliced
6 dried mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 1 hour, thinly sliced
15g wood ear, soaked in hot water for 1 hour, thinly sliced
2 block firm tofu, cut into small cubes (I didn’t add this)
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper powder
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon Shaoxing Wine
2 sprig spring onion, thinly chopped
A bunch of coriander
2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1. First, prepare the abacus beads a day ahead. Place taro in steamer and steam until the taro has soften, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer taro to a large mixing bowl, mash with a fork while taro still hot. Add tapioca flour a little bit at a time and mix it in until combined, repeat until all flour used and knead the dough until no lumps. Add salt and oil to the mixture and knead for another minute. In this stage, if the dough is dry, you may add tablespoon of hot water.  Wrap the bowl in cling film, set a side to rest for at least 10 minutes.

2. Roll the dough into a long long and cut into small chunks.  Take one one small chunk and roll into a ball size of a marble, poke into the center of the ball with index finger to make an indentation then place the taro bead on the tray. Repeat until all dough is used.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil on high heat, and also prepare a large bowl of chilled water on the side. In batches, drop the abacus beads into the hot water, once the beads are cooked and float to the surface, scoop them out with a strainer and transfer them to the chilled water. Drain and transfer to a bowl, pour some oil into the bowl and keep it a mix so the beads won’t stick together. Transfer the abacus beads to refrigerator and let it cools down. 

Note: If you are don't intend to use it immediately, put into a zip lock bag and store in the freezer.

4. Add a dash of oil in a frying pan on medium-low heat, in batches, fry the abacus beads until golden brown on both sides. Place them slightly apart to prevent sticking together. Once all done, place them on a plate and set aside.

5. In a wok, heat 2 tablespoon of oil on medium-high heat, add garlic and ginger, stir-fry for a minute. Then add mushroom, wood ear, tofu and water chestnuts, stir-fry for few more minutes. Add abacus beads and spring onions, then season with soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, white pepper and sesame oil, now stir-fry gently for another minute and is ready.


The Chinese called this Yam Abacus Beads..... and the western or Italian can called this as"Yam Gnocchi"


 YUM !!


  1. Can I exchange my gnocchi with your yam abacus? both actually are using the same method ^_^

  2. Mel, I love this dish very much! But quite troublesome to make.

  3. You are so hardworking, mel! This hakka delicacy looks perfectly made and cooked. ^^

  4. Hi Mel, yes I like yam and I've eaten Yam Abacus Beads before. Ever saw my late mom made this dish ... and like Phong Hong shared it's really quite troublesome to make. But if I'm asked to choose between woo kok or this hakka dish, I'll prefer woo kok.

  5. hi mel, i like yam but i cant really take lots of that due to intolerance. It's quite rare to find these abacus beads nowadays..i like them with lots of dried squids :)

  6. I love yam too. Yours yam abacus looks very delicious. Thanks for sharing, Mel :)

  7. I love everything that have yam in it and I love this dish too. I've tried making it and yes it is quite a bit of work.

  8. how! how! how can i nearly miss this! u know i miss this so much but i have been so lazy doing thins because of the shredding of tapioca... i hate that task :( erm erm... can you deep freeze and send me some ah?

  9. Hi Mel,

    I love yam and yam abacus beads. I see that you have used Billy Law's recipe and you have cooked it very well.


  10. Mel, abacus is one of my favourite food too! Yours one looks so yummy!