August 28, 2010

Happy Merdeka Day and a Food From My Heart: Hakka Taro Abacus Beads (客家算盤子)

(WARNING: a VERY long post ahead. Read it at your own risk.)

Hibiscus, Malaysia's National Flower
National Flower of Malaysia: Hibiscus

I love Her, but She doesn’t love me. Albeit vaguely expressed, this is a dilemma I have for the place I call home.

On Aug 31, it is when my fellow compatriots and I would commemorate Her 53 years of independence. Among the Malaysians, the National Day is affectionately known as the “Merdeka Day.” (Or “Hari Kemerdekaan” in Bahasa Malaysia, which is our national language. “Kemerdekaan” is a noun derived from another noun “merdeka,” which means “independence.”)

I shall not go on snarling for fear that I might be barking at the wrong tree; hence, the possible censorship. What I do know of, though, is I have a loving family in the place I call home. They watch me grow up. They share the ups and downs of life with me even when I was miles away in the U.S. They redefine the word “home.” My homeland means much more than being a soil I grew up on. It is where I find love, warmth and support.

Coconut Trees--Rural Malacca, Malaysia

My Homeland and My Family

Perhaps, what I’ve experienced has molded me into someone who is of my mom’s opposite. Because we possess different beliefs and values, I can get into disagreement with her easily.

Before I left home for the States almost 4 years ago, my mom wouldn’t let me enter the kitchen. She distrusted my ability to be on my own for fear that I might burn down her kitchen! That was why I couldn’t even fry an egg properly before October 2006.

At times, my parents will still bring up anecdotes from the first days of their marriage. In my eyes, even though arguments are inevitable, my mom and dad are still the bestest best friends. It’s always fun to listen to their stories and watch how they tease each other. My dad always uses this particular episode to tease my mom: “以前是阿爸煮飯, 阿媽洗碗的! 我認識你老媽子的時候, 她是不會煮飯的!” (In Malaysian Chinese: “Daddy was the one who cooked while Mommy was the one who did the dishes! Your mom knew nothing about cooking when I first met her!”)

Though my mom still doesn’t admit that, I believe in the words of my dad. I think my mom was “forced” into taking up cooking shortly after giving births to me and my brothers. She only cooks to feed us. Cooking has neither been her real interest nor forte. Plus, she only picked up baking recently. She’s addicted to gardening and needlework instead.

I was a rebellious teen. I spent close to 2 years of my senior high school years living away from my parents, with my sixth great-aunt and –uncle (六叔婆與六叔公). My great-aunt is Hakka (客家人), while the rest of my dad’s family members are Cantonese (廣府人), including my sixth great-uncle whom I just mentioned.

A Food From My Heart

Taro Abacus Beads 算盤子

I’d be pampered with classic Hakka and Cantonese dishes. Once in a while, my great-aunt would fix Hakka taro abacus beads (客家算盤子), which are similar to gnocchi but made with taro (芋頭) and tapioca starch (薯粉) instead. These chewy morsels resemble abacus beads in appearance; hence, the name. They're first boiled and then stir-fried to be transformed into a mouthwatering dish. Of course then, knowing that we all love this dish, my mom was very eager to try her hands on making these abacus beads too.

Tapioca starch

My Teochew (潮州人) mom tells me that, “要消滅潮州人就要先消滅所有的芋頭!” (In Chinese: “One has to first kill all the taro plants in order to kill all the Teochew!”) There, I can apprehend how important the taro is for all Teochew.

Innards of taro
Taro: peeled and halved

Before she was struck by stroke 6 years ago, my mom would prepare abacus beads every so often to curb our cravings. Now that she’s only left with half of what she physically had, she doesn’t have the motivation to put herself into the long and oftentimes tedious process of making the beads. Watching her every day, I can understand her frustration.

My mom is not the best cook. Nonetheless, she took the efforts to learn to prepare abacus beads for us – by referring to a recipe, not my great-aunt. I’ve got to say hers are very good! So, I resolved that I absolutely have to master this classic Hakka dish.

Hakka Abacus Beads, My Mom and I

Since my mom was hit by stroke, she’s lost many of her handwritten recipes collected over the years. It’d be such a hassle for her to climb up and down the stairs and to rummage through her stacks of cookbooks and notes – just to retrieve her recipe for me. So, I turned to the online community of fellow bakers and cooks for my abacus beads.

Taro Abacus Beads 算盤子

Honestly speaking, it wasn’t my maiden attempt at making the abacus beads. Before I learned how to survive in the kitchen, I’d help my mom out with kneading the dough and shaping the abacus beads. This mother-and-daughter team would chat away. I’d often tease her, too. She’d “retaliate” by saying: “哎呀! 妳這個女兒養不熟的!” (In Malaysian Chinese: “Argh! How can you still behave foolishly after years of upbringing!”) I’ve grown accustomed to her remarks. I know she still loves me no matter how mischievous I am. Haha!

Ready to stir-fry
Making taro abacus beads in my mom's 22-year-old kitchen

See, I’m not quite happy with this particular batch. The abacus beads were mushier than desired, which gave me nightmare as they were being stir-fried. I’ll knead in more tapioca starch to the dough in my future attempts. But my taste testers commented that, “Hey, I can actually taste the taro within!” Surprisingly, they loved the beads! My folks really gave me a hard time trying to conclude the situation. Anyway, I’m looking for abacus beads that are chewy in texture – and yet, firm enough to hold their shape. (“Pei-Lin, don’t be stingy on the tapioca starch!”)

With that said, the abacus beads will definitely lose more taro flavor with the incorporation of more tapioca starch. That’s why the ingredients used to stir fry the beads are just as crucial. That is, they have to be infamously awfully fragrant and flavorful. My favorites include:

shiitake mushrooms 香菇;
Dried shiitake mushrooms 香菇

pickled daikon 菜脯 (left); dried small shrimps 蝦米 (right); dried squid 魷魚幹 (top);
Dried shrimps 蝦米, dried cuttlefish 魷魚干 & Chinese brined preserved daikon 菜脯

pressed tofu (豆干);
Diced dried tofu 豆干丁

… garlic; and scallions – or if not, Chinese chives (韭菜). Instead of salt, fish sauce (魚露) does wonders to this utterly flavorful dish too! Please refer to the recipe below if you’re interested to try Hakka abacus beads out! Some suggestions are also included therein: The beads can be Chinese Buddhist vegetarian-friendly too.

When it comes to Chinese cooking, there is really no fast and fixed rule. For me, it's usually executed based on eyeballing, memories and experience.

Carrying on With the Tradition

I’m dedicating this post to the Merdeka Open House 2010, as hosted by Babe_KL. This year, the theme is “Food From Our Hearts.” (Hey rokh, good job on suggesting the theme!) Exactly one year ago, I contributed Tambun biscuits (淡汶餅) to the annual virtual open house. How funny it is to remember that I submitted my first Merdeka Open House post a few hours before my 2-day flight back to Malaysia from the States!

I promised I’d be returning for the Merdeka Open House in the years to come. Glad that I’ve made it this year! Babe_KL, thank you for continuing this tradition since 2006! I’ll be back for next year’s. Want to join in the virtual feast? Hop over to Babe in the City – KL beginning Aug 31 for more yummy Malaysian dishes!

Chinese vendor selling roasted chestnuts (栗子) at Petaling Street (茨廠街), in Kuala Lumpur

Cute Malay Boy Dancing in Joy Whilst Watching Lion Dance!
The Chinese and Malay reveling on the street during Lunar New Year (dated February 2010; taken in Malacca)

I love Her, but She doesn’t love me. Again, this best sums up the feelings I have for the place I call home. No matter how divided or united we are on certain issues, no matter where we are in this world, I’d like to wish my fellow Malaysians

Selamat menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan Yang ke-53! 
(In Bahasa Malaysia: Happy 53rd Independence Day!)

Taro Abacus Beads 算盤子

Hakka Taro Abacus Beads 客家算盤子
Adapted from Sunflower's   改自Sunflower的食譜

To make the taro abacus beads:

500 ~ 550 grams taro 芋頭
1 teaspoon salt -- or adjust the quantity as necessary

4 ~ 5 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil e.g. sunflower, canola or rice bran oil -- adjust the quantity as necessary
180 ~ 225 grams tapioca starch 薯粉 -- or adjust the quantity as necessary
* The more tapioca starch there is, the chewier and firmer the texture of the beads will be. *

Enough water -- optional
* Add water only when the dough appears to be somewhat dry to work with. *
  1. Peel the taro, then wash it. Slice the taro in half. Take each half, slice it into 1~1.5 centimeter-thick slices. Repeat with the remaining half.
    * If you're allergic to the sap given out by the taro, do wear gloves to work with it. *
  2. Slicing taro in progress Steamed taro, fresh off the stove
  3. Steam the taro slices over high heat till they're soft and cooked through. Remove them from the heat, then mash them up real well with the salt while they're still hot.
  4. Knead in (A) to the mashed taro really well till you get a dough that's firm and smooth enough. If the dough still appears somewhat dry, knead in enough water -- a little at a time -- till you get the desired consistency; if the dough appears somewhat wet/sticky, knead in more tapioca starch -- a little at a time -- till you get the desired consistency.
    Before mixing the ingredients up
    Mixing the ingredients up to get a dough
    You may test the consistency of the dough by performing the following:
    Pinch out a small portion of the dough, say, of the size of a walnut, and roll into a ball. Then with your thumb, gently press down the center of the ball of dough to make a deep dimple. If the ball cracks badly, it means the dough is still dry. Knead in more water to the dough then to remedy the situation.
  5. Divide the dough into three or four equal portions; cover those you're not working with with cling wrap to prevent them from drying out.
  6. Dough
  7. Working with one portion of the dough at a time, roll the dough into a somewhat-thin log. Then, cut to divide it into equal bite-sized pieces. To shape the bite-sized pieces into abacus beads, the following is what's practiced in my household:

    Gently roll each piece into a ball in between your palms
    Shaping dumplings for abacus beads 1

    Then, gently flatten the ball slightly (till about 1.5-cm thick)
    Shaping dumplings for abacus beads 3

    Now, gently press down the center of the ball with a chopstick to get a deep dimple -- DON'T poke through the ball!
    Shaping dumplings for abacus beads 4
    Shaped dumplings for abacus beads, ready to be boiled

  8. Bring a deep pot of water to a rolling boil. Then, cook these raw taro beads in the boiling water till they float atop. Let them boil for another 20 seconds before dishing them up with a slotted spoon.
    Boiling taro dumplings
    Boiling taro dumplings

    Dish up the cooked taro beads with a slotted spoon and transfer them into a big bowl of cold water; immerse them in the cold water for a while to stop them from further cooking and to firm up their texture for a bit -- we want the springiness there. In spoken Cantonese, I call this step "過冷河," which literally means "to run through the cold stream."
    Boiled dumplings immersed to let rest in cold water
    Boiled taro dumplings, before stir-frying
    Just before stir-frying (i.e. the next step), scoop out the taro dumplings with a slotted spoon to drain out the water. If the dumplings stick together, sprinkle some cold water over them in order to "pull them apart."

    Cooked taro dumplings can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. But, do have them covered in cling wrap and kept refrigerated till you're ready to use them.

To stir-fry the taro abacus beads:

* Please adjust the quantity for all the ingredients below based on your liking, memories, and/or experience. This is the essence of Chinese cooking: no fast and fixed rule. *

Enough cooking oil -- for stir frying

3 large cloves of garlic -- minced
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger root 薑

2~3 large dried shiitake mushrooms 香菇幹 -- soaked in water for a few hours till softened; drained and sliced thinly
2~3 large pieces of Jew's ear 黑木耳 -- soaked in water for a while till softened and looked "swollen"; drained and sliced thinly
About a small handful of pickled daikon 菜脯 -- soaked in water for 5 minutes and coarsely chopped
2 heaped Tbsp dried small shrimps 蝦米 -- or to taste; soaked in water for 5 minutes; drained and roughly chopped, if necessary
Some dried squid 魷魚幹 -- soaked in water for a bit till softened, then drained and cut up into smaller pieces if yours is a large chunk; please adjust the quantity to taste; however, this is an optional ingredient
* I just eyeballed how much dried squid I needed. *

Jew's ear 黑木耳
Jew's ear 黑木耳

125 ~ 150 g ground pork
Some pressed tofu 豆干 -- washed, patted dry, and diced up; adjust the quantity to your liking
* I forgot to jot down how much I used. *
2 tsp dark soy sauce 老抽 -- optional
* I added this to "darken up" my abacus beads. A little will do. *

Taro abacus beads, which are prepared ahead based on the above recipe
* Unfortunately, I eyeballed the amount needed too. I just worked with how much I got from the abacus beads recipe above. *

2 ~ 3 tsp light soy sauce 生抽
1 Tbsp oyster sauce 蠔油
A pinch of ground white pepper
Dash of sesame oil 麻油
Salt or fish sauce (魚露) -- to taste

A handful of chopped scallions
A handful of chopped cilantro 芫茜
  1. In a large wok, heat up enough cooking oil till hot over high heat. Once the oil has become hot enough, sauté (B) till aromatic. Then, stir in (C) and continue to stir-fry till aromatic.
  2. Stir in the ground pork and stir-fry till it's cooked, i.e. it has separated and no longer looks pink. Then, add in the diced pressed tofu and stir-fry for 3~4 minutes to cook it briefly. Now, stir in the dark soy sauce.
  3. Add the taro abacus beads to the mixture in the wok, making sure that the dumplings aren't stuck together. Stir-fry briefly only to heat them up for a bit. Then, add in (D) and stir for a few minutes to incorporate everything together.
  4. Just before dishing up, stir in (E) to the mixture and toss briefly to ensure that the greens are scattered evenly throughout the mixture. DON'T have to cook the greens too much. Turn off the heat and dish up. Serve the dish hot or wait till it's reached room temperature. I love my Hakka taro abacus beads both ways.


You may make this dish (Chinese) Buddhist vegetarian-friendly, too, by --
  • Omitting the ground pork, dried squid, dried small shrimps, garlic, scallions, Chinese chives and fish sauce;
  • Incorporating ingredients such as diced carrots and diced green beans (四季豆), which I believe would make the whole dish less flavorful. (Well, Buddhist-vegetarian dishes are usually less intense in flavor due to some of the tenets held by many Buddhists in East Asia.) I'd first blanch these veggies in boiling water briefly just to have them almost cooked through before stir-frying them with the rest of the ingredients. Mix in the blanched veggies together with the dried tofu in step #2 for the stir-frying part;
  • Replacing regular oyster sauce with vegan oyster sauce.


    Swee San said...

    let's make this together ... !! i love taro abacus beads!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    YESH!! Let's plan a raid on Wendy's in KK later ... HAHAHA! *Start calculating on her annual leave balance* I HEART ABACUS BEADS SO MUCH!!!

    Happy Merdeka! Got Monday off also ar?

    Angie's Recipes said...

    I wish I could taste this dish! Love that taro rings (look like mini donuts..;-)
    You are such a sweet gal with loving and caring personality, I am sure that your parents are all very proud of you!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Angie, you know you're making me feeling real guilty ... I can't be terse in my replies to comments too! Your words are always so sweet and encouraging. =)

    Been meaning to visit you on yours ... But the last couple of weeks have been swarmed with work. By the time I reached home, my brain refused to function properly. HAHA! Your combo of marshmallow and strawberries are still stuck in my mind, I'll put the couple to good use someday ... I'll, since I have gobs of marshmallow with me now ... Thanks, Angie!

    Hmmm ... Never thought of describing the 算盤子 as mini donuts. HAHA! How I wish you could have had some too! Well, I believe so long as you can get a hold of taro in Germany, you can make yummy abacus beads too!

    Angie, you haven't seen the darker side of me ... which may surprise you! HAHA! In their eyes, I'm always a rascal/rebel!

    Su-yin said...

    You know what, I've never heard of these taro abacus beads. Having said that, I would definitely love to try this dish as I love love LOVE yam. Yam cake, Yam rice - you name it, I love it. :P

    Cooking Gallery said...

    What a beautiful story about your family! This is my first time seeing Hakka Taro Abacus Beads, but looking at the recipe, I am sure they taste great because I love chewy food ;). I don't eat much Taro, but I know Taro pudding and Taro bubble tea (very yummy...!!)

    Aimei said...

    I like how you usually linked a story to what you are posting on... very interesting and heart-warming.. :)

    I love to eat almost all kinds of taro dishes. I don't often get a chance to eat Hakka abacus beads because not many people i know of are hakkas and whenever i bought from those night markets, i just felt they are not the same!

    Jess @ Bakericious said...

    Hi Pei Lin, I really feel so ashame, you are so much younger yet can cook and bake so well. I have seen my mil made this many times but nvr cross in my mind to help her or learn from her :p.

    wendyywy @ Table for 2..... or more said...

    Aiyor, raid my house?
    I can't believe I'm letting in barbarians, hahahah!!!

    Anyway, nice to see mother and daughter cooking together.
    I rarely do that with my mom, it's either her or me in the kitchen.

    Shirley @ Kokken69 said...

    A very well written post - I read every word :-) . I have never made abascus seeds and your step by step photos are really helpful. Just learnt that this has been a really long weekend break for most people in KL- hope you've managed to cook up a storm!

    Meldylocks and Her Three Bears said...

    SOoooooo long this post!! I left the computer and came back 3 times to finish reading!! (interupted by my sons lah)... AS usual, I LOVE detailed step by steps!

    babe_kl said...

    I loved this dish but it's really too much work :p for lazy ppl like me. Thanks for taking part in this year's Merdeka Open House.

    Kitchen Corner said...

    Hi Pei Lin,
    I think you are more like your dad loves to get into the kitchen :) I tried this Hakka dish and feel that the texture is quite similar to the Italian Gnocchi. You think so?

    Abbi said...

    Happy independance day to you! I enjoyed reading your post. The food looks very good, I would love to try it.

    Anonymous said...

    Hello! Can you tell me how i can register mail at google [url=]google[/url]

    mycookinghut said...

    Such interesting dish! LOoks yummy!

    Jo said...

    Hi Pei-Lin, I had to do at least 2 pages of scrolling .. LOL but am not complaining. I take joy in reading your posts and can't help smiling each time.

    BTW happy merdeka day! I have not celebrated this day for more than 20 years now! Cheez. Would you believe even though I am Teochew, I only had abacus seeds only recently. And that was from my office colleague as her mum made some over a weekend. It was delicious. I loved it very much especially with the minced meat, garlic and black fungus mushroom. I therefore salute you for making this "tedious/time consuming" dish. Gosh ... looks like I too am getting a bit long winded now! Have a great week ahead, my friend.

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    @Su-yin: Hey, how are you? HAHA! I know the Hokkien also love anything taro-ish. The Teochew in me loves taro cake and taro rice, too! Try the abacus beads when you're back in Malaysia! Hope to see you!

    @Cooking Gallery: Haha! I guess many East Asians (like us) have a palate for anything chewy. I'm sure you'll get to try abacus beads when you're back in our region someday ... Thank you so much for the kind words! =)

    @Aimei: Haha! I can see that the majority of Singaporean-Chinese there being either Hokkien or Teochew. Taro must be a fave ingredient! Say, I haven't bumped into a pasar malam in SG. When you stop by anywhere in MY, perhaps you can try some better one, especially in Hakka-predominated area e.g. Ipoh. Btw, thank you for the encouraging words! =)

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    @Jess L.: Erm ... You haven't tried my dishes leh ... Tried baked ones already doesn't mean I'm good. HAHA! Plus, it also means I 邁入青年發福時期 earlier. HAHA! Actually already prospering liao around my waistline, not in my purse. HAHA! Aiya, you're so talented ... Sure you'll be pulled into making abacus beads with your MIL eventually.

    @Wendy: For sure, you're letting in one samseng ... HAHAHA! Careful ar ... Actually, nowadays, I don't cook with my mom anymore, unfortunately. In the kitchen, it's either she or me; otherwise, there will be nga-lor ... Aiya, I'm pretty much my mom's opposite lar ... Sad hor? At least, you don't nga-lor with your mom. I used to nga-lor with her once in a while on MSN when I was in U.S. Haha! What to do with a 硬頸女!

    @Shirley: HAHA! I literally laughed at your first line! Hey, being long-winded is my signature ... LOL! Thank you!! I'll take it as a compliment. Anyway, this post took 2~3 days to write. It's paid off, with just a few words from you. Actually, not long for me ... I don't have my Monday off. The holiday is on the following Tuesday. So, not really a long weekend for me. HAHA! Hey, take care yea? Enjoy Seoul!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    @Meldylocks: Thank you so much for dropping by! Meant to say hello on yours too, but never get around to do so due to my tight schedule. =S ... Sorry. HAHA! I know I'm UBER LOOOOONG-winded! Haha! No worries about my ramblings. It's optional to read them ... since I'm so freaking long-winded. LOL! Thank you for the encouraging words! =D

    @Babe_KL: Nah, you aren't lazy! You're just too busy for all these. Everyone has his/her own life to go about ... No worries! Def my pleasure! The Malaysian identity is stuck with me forever, no matter where I end up in. I'll for sure try my best to partake in the Merdeka Open House each year! Thank you so much for organizing and hosting the Event! So meaningful! =D ... Selamat Hari Kebangsaan!

    @Grace F.: Honestly, I have less exposure to gnocchi than abacus beads. As far as they're concerned, I'd think so. When time allows, I'm thinking of making some gnocchi out of curiosity. Haha! Unfortunately, he rarely cooks nowadays, as he knows there's always someone to cook for him ... My dad cooks not because he likes doing so. He was also forced to take up cooking during his 3 years of undergrad education abroad in the U.K.! But you're SO right in some sense, I'm my dad and his mom's exact imprint! HAHA!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Dearest Abbi,

    Hey! How's everyone back in Bemidji? Thank you so much for the well wishes. You're such a blessing to my life, especially my 3 years there. =)

    Turning cooler with fall coming, huh? September is coming ... With Ula gone, is the Hayride gonna be held as usual during the fall? I miss the peace and quiet life in Bemidji. Kuala Lumpur gives me an-ever busy schedule and chaotic life. I feel like I've not stopped running since I got home exactly one year ago. *Sigh* Kind of stressful.

    Should you guys ever get to visit me and other international students in Malaysia, we'll organize some meet-up and cook up for you guys! A potluck, just like what you did to us when we were there. I managed to speak to a few of them. Most of them are back in Malaysia for good.

    Anyway, I'll drop you guys a mail just to check on you all. Take care till then, K? Missing you so much! I hope we can reunite someday! Your boys and girls must be grown-ups by then! Haha! I'll be an old lady on the other hand ... Take care! Have a nice week ahead!

    Love lots from Malaysia,

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    @Anonymous: I'm assuming your comment is made out of goodwill. So, I'll answer you in a terse manner. According to my memory, I registered mine by following the instructions given therein on the Gmail site. It's user-friendly. You should be able to have things figured out by following the instructions. Not much of a help, but hope my words will help anyway. Thank you for dropping by anyhow.

    @Leemei: Hakka abacus beads are good! Thank you for dropping by and kind words!

    @Jo: HAHA! Sorry for making you doing all the scrolling! Thank you for being patient all along. LOL! I appreciate it though. Thank you for being so supportive all along! =) ... WHAT!? Over 20 years!? You've been in SG for that long!!?? WOW! Aiya, abacus beads are Hakka lar ... HAHA! You're lucky to have colleagues whose families cook ... because you'll kena belanja later ... Haha! OK, I'll also try not to be long-winded in replying to comments ... Sorry for influencing you! HAHA!

    petite nyonya said...

    Happy Merdeka! Great post! Love this Hakka abacus beads. had it once at my friend's hse. Unfortunately I had no time to submit anythg for Merdeka Open Hse...wanted to but no time to organise my participation. Nevertheless, so glad tmrw's a holiday! Yippeee.

    Passionate About Baking said...

    Hi Pei Lin,
    A very detailed sharing of your family background. It sure takes a lot of efforts to make this abacus beads. It's no wonder there's less stores selling this now.
    It's so delicious from the way you made it. Can you believe I've only tried it once? It's not easy to find this in the hawkers now. And I can forget about making it. Thanks for sharing.
    Happy National Day to you too!

    faithy, the baker said...

    I've never eaten this! come to think of it..i don't really eat a lot of Taro...or not at all...hmm.. when you have perfected the dish, please make some for me to try..:D

    Small Small Baker said...

    I'm starting to love your long posts. You know I used to read and skip, now I read everything. When I'm free, I'm going to read from your very first post. :)

    I've never tried abacus beads. But I love Hakka Yong Tau Foo. I wonder if you know how to make it. Share with us ok.

    maameemoomoo said...

    I love this dish!!

    Thanks for the recipe, would definitely try this whenever i chance upon yam in the market! Book-marking!

    Honey Bee Sweets said...

    Always so heart warming to read about the stories your put so much effort to post for us. If there is, should present you an award for such effort. :) I remember when I was younger I too have many disagreement with my mom, after after leaving her and the rest of the family behind to settle in US for 8 yrs, I came back being a mother myself and a brand new me, lol! Now I am more "tune in" to my mom's "frequency"... And we talk so much now. I hope in yrs to come, you and your mom will bond like best friends and share the kitchen in harmony. ;) I triple heart the Hakka this abacus dish! And one of the best I've tasted was in KL, miss it now. :P thanks for putting the detail step step instructions to make this. Will give you face and try it out soon, lol! Take care my friend!

    Allie said...

    Your post is really heartwarming. Love those pictures that you took of your family too. These abacus beads look awesome! But they are really tedious to make aren't they? Happy Independence Day to my neighbour too! :)

    pigpigscorner said...

    This is my mum's favourite dish! I tried this once many many years ago and didn't like it then. But then taste change right? Yours looks amazing!

    Weng @ I heart My Bakes said...

    Hi Pei-Lin,

    Thanks for dropping by my blog. I missed quite a few post from you and until you mentined, I didn't realise we both share the same post for our submission. What a coincidene! And I after realisig that I mailed babe_kl and apologise for the duplicate, and she said it was okay and there were no rules for duplicates. Haha.

    Anyway, I am really glad that both of us share the same idea. But I guess it is the story behind this dish that touhes both our hearts. Thanks for the heartwarming story.

    Happy Merdeka Pei-Lin. I am thankful to have known you, a fellow Malaysian who makes me feel so close to home, although I am nowhere near!

    My Little Space said...

    Hi Pei-Lin, thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. It's nice to meet you. Hey, you're one famous blogger around. See you almost everywhere! haha.... Btw, my mom not a good cook either! She never bakes. It's true! I'm sure your mom is so proud of you now that you cook better than her. hahaha.... Hope you're having a fabulous day.
    Cheers, kristy

    youfei said...

    you know, you made me feel ashamed of myself as I am Hakka and seriously, to be honest, I've never really taken a liking to these abacus beads, needless to say, to even TRY preparing them.

    I guess if there was something my dad would be proud of me fiddling in the kitchen it'd be trying to get these little beads nicely done up on the dinner table.

    Thanks for sharing! A great post on your dedication and heartfelt feelings to your homeland. =D

    Mr Lonely said...

    nice blog.. have a view of my blog when free.. .. do leave me some comment / guide if can.. if interested can follow my blog...

    Hearty Bakes said...

    Hey PL, tho i'm not a hakka, but i love to eat taro abacus. Wanted to learn to cook it and now with your pictorial, it inspire me to cook this special dish.
    You are great! Young yet can cook & bake! What were i doing when i was your age lol!

    noobcook said...

    wow this is a feat! so much work and care taken to research, document and try out the recipe. these 算盤子 are made from the heart :) and your family must be really proud that you can cook this dish so well :)

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    To all my dearest family, friends, readers and/or visitors:

    Sorry for such delayed reply! I probably will be MIA till next week due to fever and an infected throat. Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I truly appreciate it. Have a great weekend ahead! =)

    @Joslynn: No worries! Come back for next year's! Hope you had a lovely Merdeka Day! Hope to see you REAL soon!

    @Jane: Well, it's not that hard. It's just a matter whether one wants to make the beads or not. Just like you, your determination and passion to bake! Next time you come to KL I'll treat you to some. Thank you for the wishes! =)

    @Faithy: Well, we all have preferences. No worries! I don't like petai at all! Yea, stop by KL and I shall treat you to some abacus beads! =)

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    To all my dearest family, friends, readers and/or visitors:

    Sorry for such delayed reply! I probably will be MIA till next week as I'm down with a fever and an infected throat. Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I truly appreciate it. Have a great weekend ahead! =)

    @SSB: I laughed the moment I read your words! Thank you for bringing the laughter to me! I'm indeed long-winded. HAHA! Thank you. Oh, I love Hakka yong tow foo too! I've learned it from my aunt but yet to put it to action. Haha! I may flop. Anyway, my area is famous for yong tow foo. If you do come back, lemme know! ;)

    @maameemoomoo: Good! Lemme know yours turn out! =)

    @Bee Bee: THANK YOU! T_T

    Haha! Who knows I may be a gentler creature in the future ... I'm bad that I take things for granted when they're still around. Shame on me. =( ... But, I do love her, in a different way.

    Haha! You miss the foods in KL, huh? Set, when you're back for a visit, let us know! We can hang out together! I miss your company!

    Thanks for giving me the face! I'll cherish it and will hop over for your abacus beads! Can't get enough of these! Take care, too! Wonder when I'll be seeing you again ...

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    To all my dearest family, friends, readers and/or visitors:

    Sorry for such delayed reply! I probably will be MIA till next week as I'm down with a fever and an infected throat. Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I truly appreciate it. Have a great weekend ahead! =)

    @Allie: Thank you! Haha! When the cravings strike, nothing can stop! Terima kasih! =)

    @Anne: I'm sure our taste buds evolve over the years, though, not majorly. Thank you! I'll give the beads another shot again!

    @Weng: Sama-sama! LOL! It's OK one ... That means great minds like ours think alike! Why did you apologize!!?? We're free to make what we want. HAHA! You're darn funny lar! Thank you for your heartwarming story, too! It's OK, I'd been thru that myself and I know how it feels like exactly! Stay in touch!

    @Youfei: Don't lar ... LOL! Now that you've made feel bad ... HAHA! Seriously, Hakka foods are damn good! No worries ... Don't have to feel forced. Do what you like ... Especially so long as D isn't Hakka. Haha! Thank you for being so supportive all along! Thank you! Great to have a great friend like you! =D

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    To all my dearest family, friends, readers and/or visitors:

    Sorry for such delayed reply! I probably will be MIA till next week as I'm down with a fever and an infected throat. Thank you so much for the encouraging words! I truly appreciate it. Have a great weekend ahead! =)

    @Mr Lonely: Thank you for stopping by and the encouraging words! You've got an interesting blog there! Just blog by following your heart.

    @Jessie: Hey! Aiya ... You're also a young and pretty mom! Hehe ... Saw your Twitter pic. I'm just "showing off" ... HAHA! You're a darn talented baker! Hope to see the Jessie someday!

    @Wiffy: Thank you! You're way better cook than I am ... I'm only a little bit of everything ... So weird ... HAHA!

    WizzyTheStick said...

    This looks amazing! We cook with Taro in the Caribbean a lot but don't have anything like this dumpling. I can't wait to try them!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Hello, WizzyTheStick!

    That means you're gonna be trying your hands on making these taro abacus beads? Alright, whatever your adaptation may be, lemme know! Can't wait to see your take on this Chinese dish the Caribbean way! =)

    Thank you for dropping by and the kind words!

    Little Inbox said...

    Hi Pei Lin, thanks for dropping by my food blog.
    It's a long process of making Taro Abacus beads, phew... I don't think I can handle it. I'm quite impatient. Haha...

    Bakeling said...

    I love the Taro Abacus Beads !
    I copied the ingredients from newspaper but never know how to cook it .

    Thanks for sharing , especially the step by step photos . I will print it out later .

    edith said...

    I love this dish. I used to have a neighbour that does this very well. Now looking at your post, wow I doubt I will do that, such a long process to feed just a small family.

    3 hungry tummies said...

    Great post! I haven't made this for such a long time, must look for some taro soon :)

    Blessed Homemaker said...

    I love abacus beads but no chance to make this as my family doesn't like it. Wish to have a bowl of it now yum!

    Anonymous said...

    It was extremely interesting for me to read the article. Thanks the author for it. I like such topics and everything connected to this matter. I would like to read a bit more on that blog soon.

    Bella Simpson

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Sorry for the late reply! Been busy and sick lately ...

    @Little Inbox: Thank you to you, too! Haha! No worries, I can be just as impatient. Perhaps, worse than you are. ;P

    @Bakeling: Oh, look forward to your abacus beads! Thank you! =D

    @Edith: HAHA! You're not obliged to make abacus beads! Seems like you always have neighbors who are great cooks/bakers. Hmmm ...

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Sorry for the late reply! Been busy and sick lately ...

    @3 hungry tummies: Hey, you're such an awesome cook! I bet yours will be so much better than mine! Should be quite easy to find taro in Perth, huh?

    @Blessed Homemaker: Har? Does that mean your family dislike taro!!?? Wish you could have some, too!

    @Bella: Hello! Thank you for dropping by and the kind words!

    qinyi said...

    i love love love love love abacus beads! my grandma and grandaunt makes yummy abacus beads too! :)

    your thoughts reflect my sentiments exactly too....

    p.s. the post by anon might just be some spam bot, so do check and scan your computer regularly!

    p.p.s. please vote for my cousin for NTU's pageant!

    Weng said...

    Hi Pei-Lin, I gave you an award and hopefully you will like it. Thumbs up for your great blog. I really admore your photography skills :)

    Hearty Bakes said...

    Hey PeiLin, just drop you a note to see if you are feeling better. Have plenty rest yah. Take care!

    Pei-Lin@Dodol and Mochi said...

    Guys, sorry for the late reply. Been extremely busy! Have a lovely weekend!

    @Qin Yi: We shall have abacus beads together when we see each other again. You're lucky to have family members who are good at making the treat. Thank you for the words! I know exactly what you mean. Haha! But I dunno which one is your cousin, since I haven't met her! HAHA!

    @Weng: Of course, I do! Who doesn't like to be awarded! HAHA! (So thick-skinned.) Thank you so much for the encouraging words! Nah, my photography skills are so-so only. =)

    @Jessie: Thank you for the concerns and kind words. It's so warm of you to do so. I appreciate it, really. =)

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