My experience with Hakka cuisine is limited to yong tau foo & thunder tea rice, so when I got an opportunity to sample authentic & traditional Hakka cuisine I couldn’t pass it up. Plum Village is reputed to be the oldest Hakka restaurant in Singapore, so they must be doing the cuisine justice. And if this plate of 算盘仔 (abacus seeds) is anything to go by, justice has been served.⠀

Of course, ‘abacus seeds’ are NOT the seeds of an abacus (bruh), but they are balls of rice flour & yam kneaded & rolled into the shape of one of those moving thingies on an abacus, which are known as seeds. These are rather rare in Singapore, and as such I will readily admit to this being the first time in my life that I’ve eaten abacus seeds. The most accurate way to describe this Hakka delicacy is to liken it to mochi but less gummy and slightly more dense.⠀

It’s steamed, so it’s healthy but on the bland side by itself. However, Plum Village take the steamed 算盘仔 and stir-fries it with garlic, seasoned minced pork, chunks of yam and what seem to be dried shrimp. The mince adds a satisfying bulkiness to the dish with the meatiness, and the seasoning rubs off excellently on the abacus seeds. The garlic adds its mustard-y, almost nutty & subtly sweet qualities, while the dried shrimp are there for that final touch of deep umami. The yam adds even more sweetness and a slight textural variance to the dish.⠀

For $9++, this deceptively simple sounding dish is dazzlingly delicious, and is ludicrously easy to eat too much of. No, eating these won’t improve your math, but they will multiply your happiness.

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