I remember discussing moon cake with my contact over at Prima Taste just around a year ago. They mentioned that they made it too – they are primarily a flour company and so make lots of different products that use flour as a main ingredient – instant noodles, bread mix, moon cakes, etc. October 4th this year is the big Mid Autumn Festival over in Asia and moon cakes are a big part of it. They are very dense and ornate and come in very ornate packages for the auspicious occasion. Let’s see what they sent!
Unboxing Time: Mooncake From Prima – Singapore
So I’ve decided to complicate my life a little – in a way I thought would be interesting – by doing video unboxings of everything I get from readers and noodle companies. Today, my daughter Miriam joins me in trying some moon cake.
A video of the unboxing and a history of these tasty treats – and a story
Here’s some additional info from Wikipedia –
A mooncake (simplified Chinese: 月饼; traditional Chinese: 月餅; pinyin: yuè bĭng; Jyutping: jyut6 beng2; Yale: yuht béng) is a Chinese bakery product traditionally eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節). The festival is for lunar appreciation and moon watching, when mooncakes are regarded as an indispensable delicacy. Mooncakes are offered between friends or on family gatherings while celebrating the festival. The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the four most important Chinese festivals.
Typical mooncakes are round pastries, measuring about 10 cm in diameter and 3–4 cm thick. This is the Cantonese mooncake, eaten in Southern China in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau. A rich thick filling usually made from red bean or lotus seed paste is surrounded by a thin (2–3 mm) crust and may contain yolks from salted duck eggs. Mooncakes are usually eaten in small wedges accompanied by tea. Today, it is customary for businessmen and families to present them to their clients or relatives as presents, helping to fuel a demand for high-end mooncakes. A considerable amount of waste is also produced. According to the Wall Street Journal’s China edition, as many as two million mooncakes are thrown away each year in Hong Kong alone, not to mention the often voluminous packaging.
Due to China’s influence, mooncakes and Mid-Autumn Festival are also enjoyed and celebrated in other parts of Asia. Mooncakes have also appeared in western countries as a form of delicacy.
he festival is intricately linked to legends of Chang E, the mythical Moon Goddess of Immortality. According to the Liji, an ancient Chinese book recording customs and ceremonies, the Chinese Emperor should offer sacrifices to the sun in spring and the moon in autumn. The 15th day of the 8th lunar month is the day called “Mid-Autumn”. The night on the 15th of the 8th lunar month is also called “Night of the Moon”. Under the Song Dynasty (420), the day was officially declared the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Because of its central role in the Mid-Autumn festival, mooncakes remained popular even in recent years. For many, they form a central part of the Mid-Autumn festival experience such that it is now commonly known as ‘Mooncake Festival’.
Many types of fillings can be found in traditional mooncakes according to the region’s culture:
- Lotus seed paste (蓮蓉, lían róng): Considered by some to be the original and most luxurious mooncake filling, lotus paste filling is found in all types of mooncakes. Due to the high price of lotus paste, white kidney bean paste is sometimes used as a filler.
- Sweet bean paste (豆沙, dòu shā): A number of pastes are common fillings found in Chinese desserts. Although red bean paste, made from azuki beans, is the most common worldwide, there are regional and original preferences for bean paste made from mung beans, as well as black beans, known throughout history.
- Jujube paste (棗泥, zǎo ní): A sweet paste is made from the ripe fruits of the jujube (date) plant. The paste is dark red in color, a little fruity/smoky in flavor, and slightly sour in taste. Depending on the quality of the paste, jujube paste may be confused with red bean paste, which is sometimes used as a filler.
- Five kernel / Five smashed nuts (五仁, wǔ rén): A filling consisting of 5 types of nuts and seeds, coarsely chopped, is held together with maltose syrup. Recipes differ from region to region, but commonly used nuts and seeds include: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, watermelon seeds, peanuts, sesame seeds, or almonds. In addition, the mixture will usually contain candied winter melon, jinhua ham, or pieces of rock sugar as additional flavoring.
- Beijing-style mooncake: This style has two variations. One, called di qiang, was influenced by the Suzhou-style mooncake. It has a light, foamy dough as opposed to a flaky one. The other variation, called “fan mao”, has a flaky, white dough. The two most popular fillings are the mountain hawthorn and wisteria blossom flavors. The Beijing-style mooncake is often meticulously decorated.
- Cantonese-style mooncake: Originating from Guangdong province, the Cantonese style mooncake has multiple variations. The ingredients used for the fillings are various: lotus seed paste, melon seed paste, nuts, ham, chicken, duck, roast pork, mushrooms, egg yolks, etc. More elaborate versions contain four egg yolks, representing the four phases of the moon. Recent contemporary forms (albeit nontraditional) sold in Hong Kong are even made from chocolate, ice-cream or jelly.
- Hong Kong-style mooncake: Hong Kong has gained her own style of mooncakes. While Hongkongese typically eat Cantonese-style mooncake, local inventions such as snow skin mooncake have been appearing over the last few decades.
- Chaoshan (Teochew)-style mooncake: This is another flaky crust variety, but is larger in size than the Suzhou variety. It is close in diameter to the Cantonese style, but thinner. A variety of fillings are used, but the aroma of lard after roasting is emphasised.
- Ningbo-style mooncake: This style is also inspired by the Suzhou-style. It is prevalent in Zhejiang province, and has a compact covering. The fillings are either seaweed or ham; it is also known for its spicy and salty flavor.
- Suzhou-style mooncake:: This style began more than a thousand years ago, and is known for its layers of flaky dough and generous allotment of sugar and lard. Within this regional type, there are more than a dozen variations. It is also smaller than most other regional varieties. Suzhou-style mooncakes feature both sweet and savory types, the latter served hot and usually filled with pork mince. Filling made from salt and pepper (椒鹽, jiāoyán) are common in flaky Suzhou-style mooncakes.
- Yunnan-style mooncake: Also known as t’o to the residents, its distinctive feature is the combination of various flours for the dough, and includes rice flour, wheat flour, and buckwheat flour. Most of the variations are sweet.
- Taiwanese-style mooncake: The most traditional mooncake found within Taiwan is filled with sweetened red bean paste, sometimes with mochi in the center. The most common traditional mooncakes coming from Taiwan are filled mung bean (lu dou) or taro paste, generally with a salted duck egg yolk in the mung bean mooncakes, and either salted duck egg or a savory treat in the taro mooncakes. Modern, more trendy Taiwanese moon cakes are wide in variety that include low fat, lard free and ice cream versions. Popular modern flavors include green tea, chocolate, and tiramisu.