Hakka Stir Fry Taro Dumpling “Suan Pan Zi” (客家炒算盤子)

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We love taro a lot and we were thinking to make the Pork Belly with Taro which Eric wanted to eat all these while. But it requires too much of work and then it was often put aside. While I was researching about the dish, I stumbled across this long forgotten Hakka recipe Stir Fry Taro Dumpling or Abacus Beads “Suan Pan Zi”(客家炒算盤子). I was so excited as I didn’t have this for years. So I have decided to give the recipe a try. Obviously Pork Belly with Taro was put aside again.

Since my father side is Hakka, that’s why I know of and have tried this dish. We often get to eat various traditional Hakka dishes whenever we go back to “Semenyih”, our old home town (老家) in Malaysia. My uncle is a great cook and he will always prepare a big meal, like 8-10 dishes sometimes double the dishes because we have so many relatives visiting.

In Chinese the dish is called 炒算盤子 “Chao Suan Pan Zi”, literally means Stir Fry Abacus Beads. The taro is steamed and prepared into dough form then shaped into round balls resembling the beads on the Chinese Abacus, an old calculating tool before calculator.

The taro balls are then boiled and rinsed under cold water becoming chewy little taro dumplings. I thought this is actually very similar to Italian Pasta making except they used different ingredients. But they are both prepared into dough and shapes turning it into carb food to the meal.

To my Hakka friends, please enjoy!


For the Dough
1 lb Taro (peeled, sliced, steamed, mashed)
1 cup Tapioca Starch (木署粉)
1 tbsp of cooking oil
1 tsp salt

For Stir Fry
2-3 cloves garlic (minced)
1 handful of dried shrimps (soaked and chopped)
1/2 lb minced pork (marinate with soy sauce and wine)
1 medium carrot (cut into fine strips)
6 mushrooms (soaked, cut into strips)
1/2 cup sliced dried wood ears of black fungus
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Method:

  1. Steam the taro slices until soft about 20-30 minutes. Mashed into paste about 2 cups.
  2. While it is still warm add the starch and salt, slowly add in water little by little, mix and combine well to form a dough. (Note: add little if dough too dry, add in more starch if too watery) Recommended to add in few drips of cooking oil for easier kneading.  Knead to form smooth dough without lumps.
  3. Shape dough into marble size balls and gently press in the center. Repeat.
  4. Bring a pot of water to boil, add in the taro balls cook until it floats. Remove and drain under cold water.
  5. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan, stir fry minced garlic, add in dried shrimps stir fry till fragrant.
  6. Add in minced pork, stir and combine, follow by carrots, mushrooms, wood ear fungus. Continue to stir fry.
  7. Add in taro dumplings, stir and combine well with all ingredients.
  8. Add in seasoning of oyster sauce, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and combine well.
  9. Serve and garnish with chopped scallions.
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Category: Entrée (Others)

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