Yam Abacus

February 10, 2021

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds | Suan Pan Zi | 客家算盘子 dish is traditional Hakka dish, made with yam and eaten during Chinese New Year celebration.

 Yam Abacus

What is Yam Abacus Seeds?

Yam or Taro abacus seeds is a traditional Hakka dish made with yam.
It is also known as Suan Pan Zi or 客家算盘子 (in Chinese character)

For better understanding, these yam abacus seeds to the Chinese is like gnocchi to the Italians.

This dish signify wealth and usually eaten during the 15 days of Chinese New Year.

My better half is a Hakka, so this yam abacus dish is a must for us.


What does Yam Abacus taste like?

These yam beads are soft and chewy at the same time, once cooked.

These abacus has no taste unless you stir fry them with chicken, prawns, fungus, mushrooms with other sauces.


How Do you Cook Yam Abacus Seeds?

Full printable recipe and video are at the end of this post.

However, to simplify

1. steam, mash yam and form into dough with hot water and tapioca flour.
 yam abacus seeds

2. Roll into marble size ball and cook in boiling water.
 woodear fungus and shiitake mushroom

3. Once cooked, stir fry with other ingredients to make these cooked yam abacus beads tasty.
 Ingredients for yam abacus

Hakka Yam abacus

How long can I keep Yam abacus seeds for?

Once you have cooked these yam abacus beads (follow step 1 to 9 in the "Prepare Yam Abacus Seeds" below), you can straight away store them in a zip lock bag and place in the freezer. 

It is good for at least 2 months in the freezer.

When you are ready to cook, thaw them to room temperature before cooking this dish.

The leftover stir-fried yam abacus can be kept in the fridge for at least 3 days.
It will last longer if kept in the freezer, but the chicken meat and prawns will taste as good anymore.

 Suan pan zi for chinese new year

Other Chinese New Dish 

Yee Sang | Prosperity Toss Salad
Butter Prawns
Chap Chye | Vegetables stew


Full video on my Youtube Channel  which will be live tonight!

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds | Suan Pan Zi | 客家算盘子

Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds | Suan Pan Zi | 客家算盘子
Yield: 4
Author: Lisa Ho
Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 20 MinTotal time: 40 Min
Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds | Suan Pan Zi | 客家算盘子 dish is traditional Hakka dish, made with yam and eaten during Chinese New Year celebration. To the Chinese, especially Hakka chinese, this dish signifies wealth.


  • 300 g frozen yam (from Asian grocer)
  • 90 g tapioca flour
  • 100 ml boiling hot water
  • 150g fresh prawns (or2 tablespoon dried prawns - soaked)
  • 3 garlic - chopped
  • 2 tablespoon golden fried shallots (store bought)
  • 4 tablespoon canola oil
  • 200g chicken breast (or chicken mince)
  • 6 small chinese dried mushroom - soaked and thinly sliced
  • 3 black fungus - soaked and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • salt to taste


Prepare Yam abacus seeds
  1. Cut the yam into chunks, steamed and mashed.
  2. Add tapioca flour and mix.
  3. Add hot water, a little at a time (be careful not to scald your  hand!!!) into a smooth pliable dough.
  4. Shape into small ball (a size of a big marble), flattened slightly into a disc and make a dimple on each side.
  5. Bring 2 liter of water to boil.
  6. Drop the abacus into the rapidly boiling water.
  7. The abacus will be cooked once it started to float.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, dish the abacus out and transfer to a bowl of cold water.
  9. Set aside then drain, when we are ready to cook.
Cooking Yam abacus
  1. Heat up canola oil, saute garlic until fragrant.
  2. Add in dried prawns and stir until aromatic.
  3. Add chicken strips, mushrooms, black fungus.
  4. Stir for another 5-8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Add in soy sauce, chicken cube stock, and all seasoning with about 1/2 cup of water.
  6. Season with salt (if needed to).
  7. Bring the mixture to boil.
  8. Add in the drained abacus and stir until the mixture thicken.
  9. Taste again before dishing out into a bowl.
  10. Garnish with golden fried shallots.
  11. Serve with steamed rice.


  1. Using fresh prawns - Add prawns after chicken and mushroom.
  2. For more sauce, add 1/2 cup water and adjust salt.



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 Hakka Yam Abacus Seeds | Suan Pan Zi | 客家算盘子 dish is traditional Hakka dish, made with yam and eaten during Chinese New Year celebration.  To the Chinese, especially Hakka chinese, this dish signifies wealth.

What I wrote in 2013 

Oh Yes...as you could see the photo above, its another 'brown' food again. 

Well... soy sauce and oyster sauce are two most commonly used in almost every Chinese cooking. That, more or less 'dictate' the outlook of any dish.

Yam abacus is a traditional dish for one of the Chinese 'clans', namely Hakka Chinese.... and H is of Hakka heritage. 

Will this brown dish be cooked again for 2014 Chinese New Year meal?
its a definitive "YES".. Everyone loved it.

And if you have 2 growing up, forever hungry teenagers (like mine), living in the house... double the portion... Don't be alarm if you hear some noises coming from the kitchen...its not a BIG FAT rat, but teens snacking on abacus in the wee hour   ....

Have a good rest and a wonderful weekend...

Lisa H.


  1. Hi Lisa
    I got to try this out one day. I have never eaten fried "abacus yam" but I bet this dish taste super delicious because I am a yam lover.

  2. Tq for sharing this marvelous recipe.. Insyaallah will try..

  3. Hi Lisa, would like to invite you to our Aspiring Bakers event this month for local dialect dishes. :)

    Check here:

  4. That is an interesting dish! I have never heard of this dish before...



    1. I dont think this is serve in Chinese restaurant :)

  5. I love this but I haven't had it in years!!!!! Hmm... maybe I should get some frozen yam on my next trip to Chinatown! A trip is due as I've ran out of so many things. :)

    1. Happy shopping... I always ended with a basket full of stuff that is not on my list :P

  6. I love these delicious traditional dish!!!

  7. it's been years since i had these! and i remember they tasted pretty good! i like the dimples/imprints on the discs ~ it's cute^^ and makes the dish somehow more interesting and tastier (??) ^^

    1. I guess the dimples/imprints gave this dish some character :P

  8. Hi Lisa! That sounds like a lot of work... but with the 2 young and hungry teens liking and appreciating your cooking, I'm sure it was all worth the effort! :D

  9. This looks so yummy. I assume this is a traditional Asian dish? Dried mushrooms, prawns, black fungus - this sounds soo gooooood!

    1. It is traditional Asian dish, and its not a dish can be found in Chinese Restaurant too :D

  10. I've never had this dish, but everything you make is delicious and make me want to try!
    BTW congrats on Top 100 mom food blogs! I saw your name!! :)

    1. Thanks Nami, it would go unnoticed if not for you. I hardly check my junk mail :)

  11. This is so delicious, Lisa. Can't remember at all when I last had some yam at all. Sighs...

  12. I have never tried yam abacus before, it looks yummy! Nanti u masak bagi, k? :)

  13. Lovely, I could eat this alone as a meal, without the rice. Springy yam abacus, hmm ...

  14. Hello,

    Great blog I will try this yam Abacus in my home, and hope so as delicious as show in pictures.

    Thanks For Sharing.

  15. Never prepared Abacus by myself before, so I was decided to make it out and was looking for a good recipe with instruction. This recipe post definitely helped to get good knowledge about preparing yum abacus. Thanks for nice sharing.
    benefits of abacus