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Yam Abacus Seeds 芋头算盘子

by Angie Liew
Yam Abacus Seeds

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Yam Abacus Seeds

Yam Abacus Seeds for Prosperity: A Classic Festive Dish

Yam abacus seeds (算盘子 Suan Pan Zi) or yam gnocchi is an auspicious dish that is popularly served during the lunar new year as the ROUND yam abacus represent reunion and signifies wealth and prosperity. It is called abacus seeds as it looked like the seeds in an abacus. And it carries a very symbolic meaning, MONEY is in abundance!

Yam Abacus Seeds

Soft, Chewy and Filled with Yam Aroma

Abacus seeds are made from yam paste and tapioca flour. When cooked, these yam abacus seeds are soft on the outside, chewy on the inside and full of strong yam aroma. It is a savoury dish that can be served as a main meal or even on its own, as a snack. Certainly a most welcome dish for the coming Chinese New Year reunion dinner. Last but not least, to all taro fans, you will surely find these an absolute delight especially in the way they’re cooked and served.

So Enjoy!

Yam Abacus Seeds

Yam Abacus Seeds

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Yam Abacus Seeds 芋头算盘子

Recipe by Huang Kitchen, Angie Liew
Abacus Seeds, also known as Suan Pan Zi 算盘子 is a traditional Hakka dish. This auspicious dish is popularly cooked during festive occasions as the abacus seeds signify wealth and reunion. Made with yam and stir fried to perfection!
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes

Tap or Hover to Adjust Servings

Servings: 6 people


Yam Abacus:

  • 600 grams yam, cut into chunks
  • 200 grams Tapioca flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 120 grams boiling water

Stir Fry Yam Abacus:

  • 500 grams yam abacus, half the portion made
  • 3 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp shallots, chopped finely
  • 80 grams dried shrimp, soaked in water
  • 30 grams dried cuttlefish, cut into strips
  • 200 grams meat, minced, chicken or pork
  • 40 grams mushrooms, soaked and cut into strips
  • 40 grams black fungus, soaked and cut into strips


  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock granules
  • 1 tsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • ¼ tsp ground white pepper
  • 1 cup water


    Prepare Yam Abacus:

    • Cut yam into chunks.
      First peel yam and cut into thick slices.
    • Steam yam.
      Steam yam for 30 minutes, till very soft and cooked. If using a wok to steam, bring water to a boil before putting in to steam.
    • Transfer cooked yam to mixer.
      Quickly transfer cooked yam to a stand mixer (use the K attachment).
    • Mash finely.
      Using the lowest speed, mix until the yam is thoroughly mashed.
    • Add tapioca flour and salt.
      Then add in tapioca flour and salt. Continue to mix.
    • Add in vegetable oil.
      Next, add in vegetable oil.
    • Add hot boiling water.
      Lastly, slowly add in boiling water, a little at a time and mix till the dough comes together.
    • Knead till a pliable dough.
      Then, change to the dough hook attachment. Mix for another 10 minutes on the lowest speed, or until you get a pliable dough. Alternatively, you can also mash the steamed yam by hand and hand knead into a dough.
    • Divide dough into smaller pieces.
      When done, divide the dough into smaller pieces.
    • Roll into a log and cut into small pieces.
      Roll into long logs and cut into small even pieces, about 5g each (or your desired size).
    • Form into shapes of abacus seeds
      Roll each piece in between your palms to form round balls. Use your index finger to press in the centre of the ball (make a slight depression), forming an abacus seed shape.
    • Continue to form into abacus seeds.
      Continue to do the same with remaining dough pieces. Note that making same-sized abacus seeds will ensure even cooking.
    • Cook yam abacus seeds.
      Boil a large pot of water. Add in yam abacus seeds in batches, stirring well to prevent them from sticking together.
    • Cook the yam abacus seeds.
      Boil for about 15 minutes or until abacus seeds float up to the water surface.
    • Rinse in cold water.
      Remove from boiling water and immediately rinse in cold water for about 5 seconds. This 'shocking' technique halts the cooking process and firms up the abacus seeds.
    • Drizzle with oil.
      Drain water and drizzle cooking oil. Coating the abacus seeds evenly with oil prevents them from sticking together. And we're ready to fry the yam abacus seeds!

    Stir Fry Yam Abacus:

    • Prepare ingredients to stir fry.
      First soak, then chop dried shrimps. Cut dried shiitake mushrooms, black fungus and dried cuttlefish into strips.
    • Chop garlic, shallots and meat.
      Mince the meat, then chop garlic and shallots.
    • Prepare seasonings.
      Mix all seasoning ingredients together. And we're ready to stir fry the yam abacus.
    • Saute garlic and shallots.
      Heat up oil in wok and saute chopped garlic and shallots till aromatic.
    • Add dried shrimp and cuttlefish strips.
      Then add in chopped dried shrimps and cuttlefish strips. Stir fry till dried shrimps turns golden brown and fragrant.
    • Add minced meat, mushroom and black fungus.
      Next, add in mince meat, sliced shiitake mushrooms and black fungus. Continue to fry and mix everything together.
    • Add seasonings.
      Add seasonings and bring to a boil.
    • Add yam abacus seeds.
      Next, add in the cooked yam abacus seeds.
    • Stir fry the yam abacus seeds.
      Stir fry until sauce dries up. And we're done!
    • Yam Abacus Seeds
      Garnish with crispy fried shallots, spring onions, chinese coriander and red chilli strips. As always, Enjoy!


Tried this recipe?Mention @HuangKitchen or tag #huangkitchen!


For abacus seeds with more yam flavour, recommended ratio of yam and tapioca flour is 3:1 (i.e. 3 parts of yam to 1 part of flour). If more QQ and chewy yam abacus seeds are preferred, add a little bit more tapioca flour. When making yam abacus dough, sometimes you may need to adjust the amount of water and flour used as texture of yam may be different. So do adjust accordingly. Making yam abacus seeds in the same size will ensure that they will be evenly cooked. Cooked yam abacus can be kept frozen in ziplock bags for later use.
Course: Main
Cuisine: Chinese, Malaysian
Keyword: chinese new year, stir fry

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5 from 3 votes (1 rating without comment)

Leave a Comment

If you like this recipe, rate 5 stars


Valerie Tan June 13, 2024 - 9:59 am

5 stars
Delicious meals & easy to follow recipes .

Angie Liew June 17, 2024 - 10:27 pm

Thanks for your feedback.

Leelee October 8, 2022 - 8:53 am

5 stars
Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I just cooked it for dinner and my parents and brother loved it!

Angie Liew October 14, 2022 - 4:47 pm

Great to know. Thanks for the feedback.

Goh Cheng Hoon June 17, 2020 - 6:58 am

Love your recipes!

Angie Liew June 26, 2020 - 11:49 pm

Thanks for viewing. Enjoy!

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