Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds - Vegetarian

This month's Aspiring Bakers is about Heirloom and Local Dialect Recipes (家传菜/籍贯菜). My dialect group is Heng Hwa (兴化). When I was still in school many years ago, at that time, hardly anybody nobody knows what is Heng Hwa. So when people happened to ask my dialect group, I would always reply, "Oh, I'm Hokkien", to avoid people asking further and save the trouble of explaining. Now, most people know Heng Hwa, if they don't know, tell them Putien (our famous local restaurant that serves Heng Hwa cuisine), they will know. ;P

In my family, only my father knows how to speak Heng Hwa, this language is going to 失传 soon (in my family). Even the dishes also hardly appear at home. I do love the Heng Hwa noodles, so we eat occasionally at the restaurant. No surprise that this post is not going to be about any Heng Hwa dishes (such a regret). In fact, I'm more attached to Hakka dishes, influenced by my mum. I love Hakka Yong Tau Foo 客家酿豆腐 especially.

This year's Chinese New Year, since there's plenty of yam at home, I decided to try making Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds (客家算盘子) for the first time. This is a vegetarian version so that my parents can enjoy the dish too.

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds (客家算盘子)

Abacus seeds
200g yam, peeled and cut into slices
60-80g tapioca flour (I prefer less flour)
A pinch of salt

1 tbsp sesame oil
2 slices ginger, shredded
50g dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked and shredded
50g black fungus, soaked and shredded
50g carrot, shredded
50g long beans, diced (or any green vege)
1 piece of firm beancurd, shredded and fried
1 red chilli, chopped (optional)

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce


Abacus seeds
1. Steam the yam for 15 minutes or until soft. Remove and mash the yam with a fork while still hot.
2. Add tapioca flour and a small pinch of salt to the yam paste, knead well to form a dough. (I just add enough flour until the dough is not sticky anymore, as I prefer more yam than flour.)
3. Roll the dough into small balls. To shape them into abacus seads, press the centre of each ball with the thumb and finger to make a slight indentation.
4. Cook the abacus seeds in a pot of boiling water until they float to the surface when done. Quickly remove the abacus seeds and transfer into a bowl of cold water. Then drain well, mix with a little cooking oil to prevent sticking. Set aside.

1. Heat sesame oil in a wok. Add the ginger and mushroom and stir fry until fragrant.
2. Add in black fungus, carrot, long beans and fried beancurd and stir well. Add some water and simmer until the vegetables are cooked.
3. Add in seasoning sauce and stir well.
4. Add in the abacus seeds, simmer for 1-2 minutes till the sauce thickens. Stir in the chopped chillies and serve.

* For non-vegetarian version, you can add minced pork and dried shrimp.

I am submitting this dish to Aspiring Bakers #29:Heirloom and Local Dialect Recipes 家传菜/籍贯菜 (March 2013) hosted by FHL of Faith Hope Love.