Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles

This noodle dish is a Hakka cuisine. We love eating this small cute little noodles. But surprisingly this noodle is not easily available from Chinese restaurants or hawker centres. So in order to enjoy this noodle, I made this a couple of months ago and am sharing it today with Little Thumbs Up January 2015 : Pasta/Noodles. 

These little rounded noodles are made up of mashed steamed yam and tapioca flour, which is mixed with a little boiling water, to form a dough. The dough is then made into small round balls (about the size of a small cherry tomato),  with one side pressed in the centre to make an indentation (resembling the abacus). The balls of noodles are then dropped into hot boiling water, drained and stir-fried as a noodle meal. 

A plate of Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles

To make the yam abacus, firstly yam is steamed and mashed, then mix with some tapioca flour, and a little hot boiling water to make a dough. Pinches of dough is formed into small round balls, with an indentation on one side (use the back of a round chopstick), to resemble an abacus. They are then dropped into a pot of boiling water to cook, and when they start to float up, they are cooked. Remove and drain, they are now ready to be stir-fried.

The abacus beads noodles are soft on the outside with chewy centre, and is usually stir-fried with meat, mushrooms, soy sauce, oyster sauce and garnished with lots of crispy fried shallots and chopped spring onions. Serve hot, though they are great when eaten at room temperature too. A small plate is really quite filling! I love eating it with a condiment of sliced hot bird's eye chillies with a dash of light soy sauce.

Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles
(adapted from "Delightful Snacks & Dim Sum", Agnes Chang)
600gm yam, cut into chunks, steamed until soft and mashed finely
300gm tapioca flour
1 tsp salt
some boiling water to mix, if necessary (I used about 3-4 tbsps)

2000ml water
2 tbsp oil

4 tbsp oil
1 tbsp chopped garlic and shallots
3 tbsp dried prawns, soaked
2 tbsp dried squid shreds, soaked (omitted)
200gm minced meat
3 dried Shiitake mushrooms, soaked till soften, and cut to thin slices
3 tbsp black fungus, soaked, shredded (ommited)

Seasoning :
1 tbsp fish sauce (I replaced with oyster sauce)
1 tbsp chicken stock granules (I use 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp dark soy sauce
salt to taste (I use light soy sauce)
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 cup water

Garnishing :
1 egg, fried into thin omelette, shredded (omitted)
some chopped spring onion, red chillies and fried shallots

  1. Combine mashed yam and tapioca flour, mix into a pliable dough, adding some boiling water if necessary. Divide into small portions and form into the shape of abacus. (pinch some rolls of dough, the size of a small cherry tomato, roll in between your palms into a round and make an indent in the centre with your fingertip). Cook in rapidly boiling water until they float to the surface. Remove and place the abacus rounds into a pot filled with cool water. Repeat until all the abacus rounds are cooked. Drain and place in a large bowl. Mix with 2 tbsp oil. Keep aside.
  2. Heat up 4 tbsp oil, saute chopped garlic and shallots until fragrant. Add in dried prawns, dried squid shreds and stir-fry until aromatic. Add minced meat, mushroom shreds, black fungus shreds and stir-fry until fragrant. Add in seasoning and bring to the boil. Stir in yam abacus and stir-fry until dry. Taste and dish up. 
  3. Garnish with shredded omelette, spring onion, red chillies, fried shallots and serve hot.

I'm linking this post to :
Little Thumbs Up January 2015 : Pasta/Noodles organised by Zoe of Bake For Happy KidsDoreen of My Little Favourite D.I.Y, and hosted by Anne of My Bare Cupboard.


  1. This looks so delicious! Is yam taro or sweet potato?

  2. Hi Joyce , what and incredible dish , love all the ingredients , I know the taste will be great . Thanks for sharing :)

  3. Hi Joyce,
    I am a Hakka girl, I love love love this yam abacus. Yours looks so inviting. I would love to have a spoonful from you. Just like to share a little tip with you here. The dried cuttlefish and fish sauce does gives this dish a special ummph!! Maybe you can try that the next time :)

  4. what an amazing dish full of flavors. Rich flavors and I love how perfect the noodles are

  5. Joyce, your first photo of this dish was like "Kapow"! in my face hah..hah... and I actually went "wow" out loud hah..hah... I didn't realise that this is called a noodle. I have eaten it before at my auntie's house. She made them herself and there was not enough to go around because it was so good. I don't know if I am hardworking enough to make this hee..hee... Whatever it is your Hakka Yam Abacus Beads Noodles look very good and delicious!!

  6. Hi Joyce,

    What an coincidence! I just used this recipe to cook abacus seeds too... I was going to publish my post for CNY :D

    This recipe is definitely a keeper :D


  7. Joyce, can I go to your house and eat these with you? I missed this dish soooooo much! I'm a Hakka by the way. Another Hakka dish that I like very much is lui cha. :D

  8. Hi Joyce, you are very hardworking making this cute abacus. I remembered it was a long time ago, I made this. Great.

  9. Joyce , what a delicious dish , very tempting ! I think I'll try to make this instead of taro cake :D Oh , I'm gonna steal your Tish Boyle's hot milk cake , okay ?

  10. From first glance I was wondering where were the noodles. First time seeing these kind of noodles

  11. Your noodles are beautiful, Joyce! I've never seen any like them! Looks like a delicious dish.

  12. I've never seen this before, but it looks great! :)

  13. I have not eaten this dish for so many years. Maybe will try to make this during CNY with my mother. We will make it without any meat because my mother is vegetarian. Thanks for sharing.