Hakka Abacus Bead @ Suan Pan Zi

'Suan Pan Zi' is one of the Chinese Hakka traditional dish besides of 'Yong Duo Fu' ~ stuffed beancurd. And it is made mostly during the festive season or New Year because it believes to bring good wealth to the family. The dough is made of yam/taro and flour/starch, just like the western gnocchi. 'Suan Pan Zi' is also called as abacus bead because the look of the yam dough just like the counter of the Chinese abacus. I wonder why my parents-in-law never made this before! I brought this home on my last visit and my in-laws like it alot.

And here's the recipe.

Ingredients for Suan Pan Zi/Yam gnocchi :

300gm yam/taro, steamed & then mashed
150gm tapioca starch
1/2 tspn salt
50ml hot water

Method :

- combine mashed yam, salt and tapioca starch in a big mixing bowl.
- slowly stir in the hot water to form a soft dough.
- knead untill smooth and then take out a teaspoon of yam dough.
- roll it to form a ball and mould the center with a chopstick.
(so that it looks like a hole in the center, like abacus bead)
- steam for 20mins or untill cooked; or you may also boil them untill cooked.

Ingredients for Stir Fried :

1 cup black wood ear, soaked
1 cup mushroom, fresh or dried
1 stalk Chinese leek
1/2 cup lily bud, soaked & make knots
1 inch ginger, shredded
1 red chili
Seasoning :
2 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tspn light soy sauce
* Thickening : 1/2 cup water mixed with 1 tspn corn starch

Method :

- put everything into slicing job (except lily buds) and making sure is nice & thin.
- preheat the wok/frying pan with enough cooking oil.
- stir in shredded ginger and saute untill fragrant.
- add in sliced black wood ear, yam gnocchi, mushroom, leek and lily buds; roughly stir fried for a few second.
- now, add in the seasoning and mix well then stir in the thickening.
- let simmer untill the sauce became thickened.
-off the heat and then stir in the shredded chili.
Note : you may also add in some ground meat but I prefer to have it green. So, enjoy!


  1. I love looking at the recipes from a far away land. Don't have the ingredients, but I am enjoying the pictures!

  2. Kristy, my MIL is a teochew but she made this occasionally. You put so much more "liao" than her leh heeheehee...

  3. Oh, I remember this....chewy and delicious. It's a long time I have not eaten. Time to make. Thanks very much for sharing. Hope you have a lovely day.

  4. Fabulous looking dish...well done with your special touch...:)

  5. Wow - never heard of this before. I love the addition of the lily buds (where do you find them?) - adds such a unique color and flavor, I bet.

  6. I love your yam gnocchi! They look so much like button mushrooms. I really thought they were mushrooms at first...;-)

  7. what is yam,kristy?the gnocchi are so cute,anf the entire dish is so yummmy!

  8. I made this before but that was long ago. My friend gave me this recipe with lots of ingredients in it and I prefer yours, so easy to cook.

  9. Oh, it looks absolutely delicious! Too bad I don't live close to you. :-)

  10. Hi Kristy,
    Yes I am Sutapa your friend!
    Wonderful dish and with your magic touch it become heavenly delicious!
    Love always!

  11. Oh this dish is so tedious I heard, unfortunately I'm not a big fan of it.

  12. Sounds very interesting Kristy, I never heard of this. Looks good though.

  13. You always have something interesting and delicious going on in your kitchen. Your post is very inspiring to try new things.

  14. This sounds fantastic - would love to try!

  15. it looks so different from every other dish i've seen...
    i thought the yam gnocchi was some kind of seafood lol

    i would love to try it!!

  16. I just saw a similar recipe in Peilin's Dodol and Mochi blog, what a coincidence :)! I think it looks very tasty indeed!

  17. Jelena : Thanks alot! You can actually replace it with sweet potato, darling!

    Jess : Haha... Chinese always love lots of ingredients & flavour in their dishes huh!

    MaryMoh : Does it remind you of something? HOME again! hehe....

    Jay : Thanks so much for your kind words.

    Belinda : Well, guess... you learned something new here today!

    Angie : Your mom cook this too?

    Alison : Yam is also named as taro. Something like sweet potato! I'll send you the link later for further info.

    Emily : Thank you!

    Anncoo : Thanks alot and glad that you like it too.

    Kumi : Hahaha.... If you ever stay closer I make sure your waist line will never stop growing! haha...

    Sutapa : Thank you! That's very sweet of you.

    Wendy : Not at all, it qutie easy to make actually. Some more i think your Lydia can also help! hehe....

    Elra : Thank you again! Hope you will enjoy this as well.

    Bridgett : Glad that you learned something today!

    Natasha : Thank you very much!

    Priscilla : haha... is that true it sounds like seafood dish? haha... Thank you so much. That's very kind of you.

    Cooking Gallery : Is it? I'll go to check on her site later on. Thanks so much.

    Thanks everyone for spending your weekend here with me. Hope you're all enjoying your day and have fun.

    Blessings, kristy

  18. ooo so this is how it's cook ya...didnt know that. Saw people selling this but tarak tau what to do with it...paiseh betul...Kenot tell people am hakka :P

  19. Hi Kristy,

    I attempted the same dish too. I am so in love with this dish, plus it reminds me of my mum. Thanks for sharing :) Yours look wonderful !!

  20. Hey, I love Hakka abacus beads too! I just blogged about mine in fact! It's a comfort food of mine though I'm not the least bit of Hakka. =)

    Happy Merdeka Day to you! Enjoy the holiday!

  21. smallkucing : haha... don't worried! Still many of them don't know how to make this either. I only learned about this one year ago. So nothing to paiseh lah!

    Weng : Yours look as good! I'm sure your mom is so proud of you.

    Pei-Lin : Hi there, welcome to my humble little space. I like your version as well. Btw, I'm cantonese! Even my Hakka in-laws had never made this before. hahaha....

    Thanks ladies for spending your time here with me. Hope to hear from you more often. Enjoy your day and have fun.
    Cheers, kristy

  22. i love abacus seed! i would go to the restaurant near my place quite often to eat them. the process didn't look too complicated except need to roll them like peanut cookies :) might give it a try one day when i have more free time


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