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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.

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Bubur Cha Cha

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Who’s up for a bowl of Bubur Cha Cha (摩摩查查)? Bubur Cha Cha is a popular sweet dessert originated from Nyonya cuisine. It is also known as Sweet Potato And Yam Dessert. The dessert typically uses varieties of sweet potatoes (yellow, orange, purple), taro/yam, colorful tapioca jelly/sago pearls with palm sugar cooked in thick coconut milk dessert. Sometimes you can even add beans like black-eyed beans, red beans and green beans. To make the dessert more colorful, you can also make different colors of tapioca jellies to go with it.

Bubur Cha Cha is a sweet, delightful, colorful yet fulfilling dessert that you cannot resist. You can always serve it hot or put in some ice to get an icy cold Bubur Cha Cha. This is actually very similar to Hong Kong recipe of sweet sago in coconut milk (西米露). Great to serve in any occasions.

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Taro Chicken

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We moved into the new apartment for a week. Everything is cool. I guess we are ready for serious cooking again.

As usual, I was looking for something fresh to try out. Again, I looked into the culinary book but then I remembered I had the taro rice recipe from mom a couple weeks ago. I customized the recipe by cooking it without the rice. Taro (芋頭) is commonly used in the Chinese cuisine in various ways, mostly for flavor enhancement. In the previous post, Bel had made the taro cake which was so good. This time I used it to make the taro chicken.

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Taro / Yam Cake (芋頭糕)

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When I go to the Chinese restaurant for Dim Sum, I always order the daikon radish cake (蘿蔔糕) or taro / yam cake (芋頭糕). However every time after I taste it, it always disappoints me, there aren’t enough ingredients and flavor in it, plus the texture is either too mushy or too hard. They just never taste the same like home made rice cake. Back home my grandma’s cousin sister (姨婆) always made a big serving of  taro cake for us, fully loaded with ingredients and flavor. She truly made the best taro cake. I missed it so much that I decided to try this complicated dish.

Taro or Yam Cake (芋頭糕) is not that kind of sweet cake that you find in dessert, in fact it is a savory cake made with the main ingredients of taro or yam and rice flour. It is also one of the Chinese New Year recipes that you can prepare. Traditionally it is cooked and steamed for long period of time in a big round deep mold. When it is done, they are cut into cute diamond shapes. Now they can be found in dim sum cuisines, usually cut into slices, you can either eat it as original or pan fried for extra crunchiness and fragrant.

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Deep Fried Sweet Year Cake (炸年糕)

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Eating Chinese New Year’s cake or year cake (年糕) is believed to have a symbolism of rising higher or taller in each coming year, such as getting a raise in job, promotion in income, or simply just growing taller for kids. I was told so during my childhood. In Chinese, Nian (粘) means sticky which is identical in sound as year (年) while gao (糕) means cake which is identical in sound as high (高). Thus it is dubbed as year cake.

Back in Malaysia, the sweet year cake is usually what we have during the Chinese New Year. Steaming and deep-frying are two common eating methods. I remember when I was in Malaysia, my mom preferred to steam the sweet year cake until it dissolved to become sticky and then it was served with the fresh grinded coconut meats. It was delicious! For the deep fried sweet year cake, it is normally sold by the Chinese doughnut hawkers together with other fried breads like Chinese fried bread stick (油條) and sugar cake (糖糕).

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Lama Kitchen is a food and cooking blog fills with savory food with great cooking recipes and ideas for those of you who love food and home cooked meals. Read more