No, I wasn’t the one who couldn’t sleep. My son kept me up the whole of last night. Literally. I wasn’t allowed to put him down in his cot. We ended up with him “sleeping” on me in my bed. And by “sleeping”, I really meant climbing around on me until he found a comfortable position to lay his head for a half hour or so before shifting again to find a different position. I don’t know what was wrong with him. If he was old enough, I’d probably just make him count sheep.
I usually don’t sleep much. Most days I function on 4 – 6 hours of sleep. I’ve even had days when I’ve only had an hour of sleep. But that was my choosing and I actually did get some sleep, even if it was only an hour. Last night however, I got no sleep and it was most definitely NOT my choosing. I don’t know how he is still functioning because I am absolutely knackered.
Since we’re on the topic of counting sheep, I’m going to stretch it a little and use that to lead into today’s dish. Hakka Abacus Seeds. You know, because we use abacuses to count (Yes, that’s a word. I checked). I know I’m lame.
My mum used to regularly take us to this little Hakka restaurant when we were younger. Tucked away in a little alley, this family restaurant was always packed. I remember always asking myself why they kept it so dimly lit. Maybe it was to hide the fact that the food tasted better than they looked. Nah! I can’t remember how the food looked. I can’t even remember how it tasted. Just that it was always good. I wonder why we stopped going.
This was one of my favourites and I would always bug my mum to order it. Now I cannot stress enough that by the time I decided to re-create it, I haven’t had this dish in over a decade. So, I really can’t say if this recipe is on par or not. I only know that it’s tasty.
Hakka Abacus Seeds 算盘子
For the seeds:
- 200 g yam
- 50 g tapioca flour
For the stir-fry:
- 1 Tbsp dried shrimps, soaked, washed and chopped
- 1 dried scallop, soaked and shredded
- 1 handful of dried wood ear mushrooms, soaked and cut into thin strips
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 to 2 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 red chilli, chopped
- 1 leek, washed and sliced thin
- 150 g minced pork
- 1 Tbsp oyster sauce
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tsp sesame oil
For the abacus seeds:
- Peel and slice Yam into 1 cm thick rounds. Quarter the rounds and place in a steamer.
- Steam the yam slices until soft, about 20-30 minutes, and mash into a paste.
- While it is still warm, add the flour/starch and knead into a smooth dough. Add a little water if the dough is too dry. I used a perforated plate to steam the yam so it was pretty dry. I ended up adding close to a half cup of warm water .
- Shape dough into marble sized balls and gently press in the center with your finger to make an indentation. Repeat until all the dough has been shaped.
- Bring a pot of water to a gentle boil, add in the yam balls and cook until it floats. About 2 minutes. Remove and plunge into cold water. Drain and coat with sesame oil. Set aside.
For the stir-fry
- In a small bowl, combine oyster sauce, light & dark soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Heat oil in pan/wok and sauté the minced garlic.
- Add in dried shrimps, scallop and chili. Fry till fragrant.
- Add in minced pork. Use the back of your spatula to break it up as you stir.
- Add wood ear fungus and leek. Continue to stir fry for a minute.
- Add in the yam balls and the sauces. Stir and combine well with all ingredients.
- Garnish with chopped green onions and serve.