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Gary Soup

Moon Cakes

393 posts in this topic

On the topic of Autumn Festival food, does anyone know of a "jello-like" goh that's made of boiling water, sugar, and strings of a yellowish substance? My grandma used to makes these dangerously diabeties-inducing treats during the festival. It was refrigerated and cuts into pieces. A name would be really nice.

Dejah: I know of that ryhme! I heard it when I was younger. I don't know the characters for it though, sorry.

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Chong tseen ming yuet gong,

Yee see dai sheung sheung.

Gueh tow mong ming yeut

Dye tow see goo hueung.

Was this written by the poet who was constantly drunk? And died by trying to reach the moon in the river....he fell overboard and drowned?

(Reaching, reaching for those long-ago lectures on Chinese arts............and failing miserably to grasp onto them!!)


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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李白

夜思

床前明月光, 疑是地上霜。

舉頭望明月, 低頭思故鄉。

Li Bai

IN THE QUIET NIGHT

So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed --

Could there have been a frost already?

Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.

Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.

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李白

夜思

床前明月光, 疑是地上霜。

舉頭望明月, 低頭思故鄉。

Li Bai

IN THE QUIET NIGHT

So bright a gleam on the foot of my bed --

Could there have been a frost already?

Lifting myself to look, I found that it was moonlight.

Sinking back again, I thought suddenly of home.

Yes, yes, YES! As I recall, my Nanjing professor told us that the reason the narrator is looking up from bed (but unable to walk to the window) is because the narrator is dead drunk. But maybe that was just extrapolation from the poet's own life!

Gotta get me some mooncakes and chrysanthemum tea!


I'm a canning clean freak because there's no sorry large enough to cover the, "Oops! I gave you botulism" regrets.

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On the topic of Autumn Festival food, does anyone know of a "jello-like" goh that's made of boiling water, sugar, and strings of a yellowish substance? My grandma used to makes these dangerously diabeties-inducing treats during the festival. It was refrigerated and cuts into pieces. A name would be really nice.

Dejah: I know of that ryhme! I heard it when I was younger. I don't know the characters for it though, sorry.

The jello-like go was mentioned in another thread. I remember the ingredient; agar agar, made from seaweed. But, as before, I can't remember what the name for the finished prodict is. :sad: I have some agar in my cupboard. Maybe I can get my mom to show mje how to make it tomorrow! :biggrin

Thanks, liuzhou, for the Chinese characters for the poem. I actually used the poem in a song hubby and I co-wrote and recorded in the70s.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Re Li Bai's Poem

I just wanted to add that it is highly unlikely that he spoke Cantonese.

If we were fortunate enough to go to one of his poetry readings, we probably wouldn't understand a word.

That said, I do think it sounds a lot better in putonghua, which would be closer to his pronunciation.

chuáng qián míng yuè guāng

yí shì dì shàng shuāng

jǔ tóu wàng míng yuè

dī tóu sī gù xiāng


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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You are correct in that the poem would be spoken in putongua, and sounds better in that dialect as well.

It was taught to me in Cantonese, but I also know it in putongua. But, my pronunciation is VERY bad, :laugh:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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anyone tried Bird's nest mooncakes before? I was wondering how they taste like


"A scholar who cherishes the love of comfort is not fit to be deemed a scholar."

- Lao-Tzu

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Ah -- that poem, ----and that poet! I first heard it when I was studying Chinese, and it has been a favorite ever since. It started my love for Chinese poetry, especially The Golden Age, but also those by Zhou En Lai.

I learned "Ye Se' also as "chuang qian ming yue guang--", but my favorite translation is also the most simple :

Beside my bed a pool of light---

Is it hoarfrost on the ground?

I lift my head and see the moon,

I lower my head and think of home.

The full moon is the 29th? I'm gonna get me some mooncakes, and go outside with my poems, and read some Li Bai!

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720 Grant Avenue at Commercial St.  (That's between Sacramento and Clay St.)  You can't miss it, it's got pictures of Bill Clinton shopping there in the window.  (He stopped by for a photo opportunity).

I dropped by Eastern Bakery in San Francisco yesterday. Chinese name is 东亚. Yes Gary, they have pictures of Clinton right at the front window. I wonder how much campaign contribution they had made to earn this bragging right... :wink:

Right on Grant Street in the middle of China Town, that place is a tourist magnet. When I went in to the store, I saw half of the patrons were non-Chinese tourists. It is interesting to see the shop-keepers having to explain most of the bakery items (names, ingredients, taste, etc.) in English to these tourists. Not quite what I am used to.

However, from the look of them I found their Moon Cakes not up to my expectation. Their forms were kind of irregular and the skins looked dull instead of shiny. Prices: around US $15 to $17 a tin of four. The prices are much lower than Kee Wah's (which are selling around $24 a tin of four). I looked at the prices of other bread bakery items and found theirs to be much higher than their peers in China Town. Perhaps that's why I didn't see a crowd of Chinese competing to order in their shop?

I left and proceeded to my favorite bakery "AA Bakery" on Stockton Street near Washington. There, I saw the usual crowd of Chinese customers fighting for their orders. *sigh* Interesting enough, AA Bakery posted a re-print of SF Examiner article which surveyed the bakeries in China Town on Moon Cakes and ranked AA Bakery the first. And Eastern Bakery is on the fourth place. AA has always been my favorite and I was glad others recognized them too. Their Moon Cakes are priced at $4 each regardless of filling. But they make the Moon Cakes in different sizes. So I suspect the smallest ones are lotus paste with double yolk filling and the largest ones are probably fruit and nut filling.

San Francisco Examiner's article on Moon Cakes

I thought of buying a few tins and re-distribute them to egullet readers in this thread... with a 50% markup of course... but, naah...

Yes, Kee Wah is Hong Kong based. They had been around before I was born. When I was small I just knew that all my aunts went there to buy Moon Cakes for self-consumption or gifts.


Edited by hzrt8w (log)

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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However, from the look of them I found their Moon Cakes not up to my expectation.  Their forms were kind of irregular and the skins looked dull instead of shiny. 

I hope you didn't base your judgement on the displays in the front window. Some of the pastries look like they have been there since the shop first opened. I can't go in there without a preconception that everything is over the hill. I would think that the mooncakes reviewed by Picky Eater were freshly made, though, as the review was during the mid-autumn festival season.

Garden Bakery is one that I have never though of in terms of moon cakes, but then I'm not a moon cake fan.

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On the topic of Autumn Festival food, does anyone know of a "jello-like" goh that's made of boiling water, sugar, and strings of a yellowish substance? My grandma used to makes these dangerously diabeties-inducing treats during the festival. It was refrigerated and cuts into pieces. A name would be really nice.

Dejah: I know of that ryhme! I heard it when I was younger. I don't know the characters for it though, sorry.

I just remembered the jello-like go. It's called dye choi go. (literally big veg. cake)

The strings of yellowish substance is agar agar. It must be first soaked to soften, rinsed, then boiled until it is all dissolved. Sugar is then added, along with a beaten egg if you wish.

Once it is cooled, put it in the fridge. When firm, you can cut it into chunks and indulge. :biggrin:

My mom was here tonight and I made a pan of this. It's waiting to cool and set. Will see how it turns out then maybe I can get a picture of it.


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I just checked the dye choi go. It's great! Will have a picture of it in the next few minutes.

The only thing I was disappointed with was the egg. it didn't "swirl" as it should have. Next time I will remember to pour slowly. :blink:


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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transparent:

Here's the agar agar go you were asking about.

i11587.jpg


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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edited to remove 2nd. send


Edited by Dejah (log)

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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transparent:

Here's the agar agar go you were asking about.

i11587.jpg


Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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I hope you didn't base your judgement on the displays in the front window. Some of the pastries look like they have been there since the shop first opened.

I was not scared by the decade-old pastry sample displayed in their window, Gary, and did go into the store to look at the "real" thing. I think their owner has not heard of companies who can make plastic model of your real food item for the purpose of placing in display window.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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The full moon is the 29th? I'm gonna get me some mooncakes, and go outside with my poems, and read some Li Bai!

Jo-mel: Mid-Autumn festival this year is on September 28, 2004 (Tuesday). I would hate to see you miss it by one night. The moon would just not be as round.

We have an old Chinese saying about the 3 days around the mid-autumn festival:

The night before: 迎月, welcoming the Moon

The night (mid-autumn): 赏月, appreciating the Moon

The night after: 追月, chasing the Moon

Unless all you want to do is to chase it...


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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The full moon is the 29th?  I'm gonna get me some mooncakes, and go outside with my poems, and read some Li Bai!

Jo-mel: Mid-Autumn festival this year is on September 28, 2004 (Tuesday). I would hate to see you miss it by one night. The moon would just not be as round.

What was I thinking? {{{{{{{batting head}}}}}}} Autumn = September, NOT August!! I know that! I had looked in the NYTimes to see when the full moon was -- forgetting this is still August!

Thanks for the correction -- as I probably would be the only person in the world eating mooncakes under the light of the Sturgeon Moon!! LOL!

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Huh, I don't think I've ever eaten anything from AA Bakery. Maybe I'll try them this year.

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I hope you didn't base your judgement on the displays in the front window.  Some of the pastries look like they have been there since the shop first opened.

I was not scared by the decade-old pastry sample displayed in their window, Gary, and did go into the store to look at the "real" thing. I think their owner has not heard of companies who can make plastic model of your real food item for the purpose of placing in display window.

But you didn't actually taste any of Eastern Bakery's mooncakes before passing judgment? Your description sounds nothing like the mooncakes I know and love from Eastern Bakery. De gustibus ....

In my side-by-side taste-test three years ago, AA Bakery's mixed-nut mooncake filling was not as tasty as Eastern Bakery's. Again, de gustibus ....

I e-mailed Sheng Kee after seeing no mixed-nut mooncakes in the boxed sets offered on their website. Today I got a reply stating that Sheng Kee doesn't make any mixed-nut mooncakes. Huh? How can that be? Mixed-nut mooncakes are a traditional flavor, nothing off the wall, and I would expect a venerable bakery like Sheng Kee to offer them.

Kee Wah's website, I see, offers mixed-nut mooncakes in several varieties, including single-yolk and double-yolk. However, all of them contain Virginia ham! I don't usually have ham in my mooncakes, but maybe I'll try these.


Edited by browniebaker (log)

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I e-mailed Sheng Kee after seeing no mixed-nut mooncakes in the bixed sets offered on their website. Today I got a reply stating that Sheng Kee doesn't make any mixed-nut mooncakes. Huh? How can that be? Mixed-nut mooncakes are a traditional flavor, nothing off the wall, and I would expect a venerable bakery like Sheng Kee to offer them.

I'm wondering how traditional mixed nut mooncakes are.

Anyone know?

I don't doubt they've been available for years,

but I don't like any but the plain kind.

Hell, until ten years ago (roughly), I wasn't aware any other kind existed.


Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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But you didn't actually taste any of Eastern Bakery's mooncakes before passing judgment? Your description sounds nothing like the mooncakes I know and love from Eastern Bakery. De gustibus ....

Let me ask you this: if you have been eating brownies all your life and somebody just cooked some brownies for you, would you be able to tell how good they would probably taste just by taking a look at them?

I have been eating Hong Kong style pastries for over forty years. When I see these moon cakes, would I say "jeez, these moon cakes look like hell, but I should just buy some anyway and see how they taste..."? :wink: The pastries from restaurants in Hong Kong in general are very good. I had not eaten any lousy pastries until I arrived the U.S.A. :smile: I live in Sacramento. There are plenty of second class or even third class bakeries around.

There is an old Chinese saying about food: Color (visual appeal), Smell, and Taste. If something doesn't look right or smell right, it would not get through to the taste test.

I don't know... either I am holding a highly picky Hongkonger standard or that Eastern Bakery reserves all the excellently baked moon cakes for mail orders only.

I'll let you in on a secret: I always use the "Local Chinese patron indicator" to help me evaluate how good a Chinese restaurant is in a foreign town. I arrived China Town at 3:30 pm on a Saturday afternoon. This is the busiest moment for bakery shops and grocery stores. The fact that I did not see any Chinese patron lining up to buy bakery items at their shop tells me either the bakery is not up to par or that the price is too high. The locals know.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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I'm wondering how traditional mixed nut mooncakes are.

Anyone know?

I first tased the mixed nut mooncake when I was about 5. I hated it. (Sorry BB) And I still do. So it's been around for at least 40 years. That was the time when creativity was not encouraged so I think it's fairly safe to say mixed nut filling is probably classic.

The only change I observed in mooncakes over the past 40 years is the introduction of the mini's. I guess people don't want to mess with this traditional Chinese bakery item like they do with French pastries.


W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"

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Have you guys ever tried the non-baked mooncakes? That's the top picture on the left.  They look like they're made in Chernobyl.  I guess the green one is "pandan" flavor.  The link is to a Malaysian mooncake company.

According to a die-hard mooncake crazy friend of mine, Kam Lun Tai's mooncakes are the best...least sweet, cuts beautifully without sticking to your knife and has just the right texture. The green one should be pandan-flavored or.............SPIRULINA! I kid you not! I suppose some wise guy thought this was a good way of taking away the guilt of consuming all that sugar...by introducing some health food into it. :wacko: Go figure!

The non-cooked one is extremely easy to make. The ping pei can be flavored as you like, but I like to make it lightly rose-flavored and color it with a tinge of pink too. Here's the recipe.

The reason why many people are into making mooncakes themselves these days, is the horror stories we've heard....one of them being...the filling which are left-over are kept till the next year. They (the mooncake shops) will just scrape off the moldy top layers when they use them the following year. Then imagine the kitchen conditions where these vats are stored (something which rhymes with vats should come into the picture :shock: ). Of course, the less scary reason would be the sugar level can be controlled by yourself.


Edited by TP(M'sia) (log)

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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