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September 24th marks this year's Chinese mid autumn festival, an important annual event in the Chinese calendar where family members gather to celebrate the moon (aka Moon festival) and share moon cakes.
Whilst there are regional variations in the way of celebrating, from dragon dancing to lighting lanterns, mooncakes are the most popular treat associated with public holiday and feasting. These good luck delicacies are thought to bring prosperity and are usually given as presents to family members or loved ones and served with chinese tea.
Traditional mooncakes are made of a thin crust with a lotus seed or red bean stuffing and they often have a salted duck egg center. Usually they are stamp-decorated with the words “longevity” and “harmony”, imprints of the moon or the legend of Chang’e, the mythical wife and Goddess of the Moon and Immortality.
Can't wait to give mooncakes a try? We have just the traditional mooncake recipe for you to make at home.
Photo: Traditional Mooncake
In recent years the popularity of mooncakes has seen a surge in their innovation and commercialisation. Modern flavours for mooncakes include ice cream, fruits and vegetables (hami melon, pineapple, litchi, strawberry, white gourd and orange) and the most expensive, being the fresh and salty seafood mooncakes (abalone, shark fin and dried purple seaweed).
Here are some examples of commercally available mooncakes, as well as an attempt to create the largest mooncake:
Chinese Jelly Mooncakes
Jelly mooncakes are a colourful alternative to the pastry mooncake. Made with agar jelly they are good for vegetarians and are best served chilled. Doris Choo over at Sumptuous Flavours has an infectious enthusiasm for the symbolic sweet and a number of jelly mooncake recipes, from cendol jelly to cappuccino cheese jelly cake.
Mooncakes are usually served with chinese tea. Have a look at this short film showing a traditional Chinese tea ceremony filmed in Zhongshan, China by the Chico Grande production team. Chinese tea master, Mr Wang, performs a fascinating traditional tea ceremony steeped in tradition and skill.
China is a country rich in culinary history and traditions, here are some more fascinating stories on China.
Happy Mid Autumn Festival!