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Moon Cakes


Gary Soup
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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.

Oh, but Malaysians are highly creative when it comes to mooncakes. Check out the description in this price list.

The jelly mooncake has been around for a few years already. I see a lot of my friends opting for this more refreshing 'mooncake'. Last year, I made a longan soya milk jelly mooncake with a balled peach "egg yolk". Considering the ingredients are much cheaper than real mooncake, it's selling for almost the same price.

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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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?

Frankly, no, I wouldn't be able to tell. In my experience, some of the ugliest foods are the tastiest.

But I find the Eastern Bakery mooncakes not only comely but tasty. I bought mine from the shop, nearly every week for the three months that I lived in the area in spring of 2001. And since then my husband has brought them home maybe once or twice a year when he goes to S.F. They don't do mail-order, as far as I know, so there's no issue, as you raise, of their saving the best for mail-orders. I just have never seen at Eastern Bakery the misshapen, un-shiny mooncakes you describe.

Also, I know it's useful sometimes to judge a purveyor by how many people are lined up to get in, but that benchmark is sometimes an indicator not of quality but of trendiness or popularity (not the same thing as quality, in my book); witness the crazy long lines at your local Cheesecake Factory. So I try not to judge food based on popularity.

Edited by browniebaker (log)
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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.

NO! NO! NO!

I don't want to hear this! Not when it is so close to mooncake eating time. :angry::angry::laugh::laugh:

Are you the PR person for the opposition? :huh::huh::biggrin:

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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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.

To be fair, Eastern Bakery is usually jammed with Chinese patrons during the height of the mid-autumn festival. Browniebaker notwithstanding, not many people eat mooncakes year-round, and you won't find many Chinese buying mooncakes at ANY bakery this early.

None of the other bakery items from Eastern Bakery have any local repute, and they are probably priced for tourists. EB's location is, after all Chinatown Tourist Central, and it's the first "exotic" noshery that tourists encounter when they wander up Grant from downtown, a reality that EB exploits quite well.

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I tried many mooncakes this year at the Hong Kong food festival and I would have to say that the trend is the冰皮月餅 Not sure why people like those mooncakes, but I guess they are viewed as more healthy and light.

My favourite kind of mooncake is the 潮州月餅 with taro paste, it is also the mooncake that contains the highest amount of fat. :wink: Ice cream mooncake is also very good. :biggrin:

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I tried many mooncakes this year at the Hong Kong food festival and I would have to say that the trend is the冰皮月餅 Not sure why people like those mooncakes, but I guess they are viewed as more healthy and light.

My favourite kind of mooncake is the 潮州月餅 with taro paste, it is also the mooncake that contains the highest amount of fat. :wink: Ice cream mooncake is also very good. :biggrin:

The chaozhou (taro) mooncakes seem to be quite popular in Shanghai, but as a carnivore I would choose the Suzhou style, even though they are still a little too sweet for my liking.

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I just got back from China in the early morning hours yesterday. We stopped by a store past security in Pudong Airport (Shanghai) to spend some remaining Renminbi, and among the things we got was a box of assorted moon cakes - red bean, "chocolate," and green tea. The red bean ones were good; the chocolate ones didn't taste strongly of chocolate and may have had some coffee in them, but the green tea ones were the best of that flavor I've ever had - jasmine tea flavored! I loved 'em!

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just to bring this timely topic's head above water again, let's expand the query.

Other than moon cakes, what traditional dishes do you prepare or eat for the mid-autumn festival? My wife always makes taro and duck soup, similar to this recipe.

The significance of taro is discussed in this article, and I'm told that the mid-autumn festival occurs during peak season for the tastiest ducks.

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To the non-Foochows reading, do you eat any other kind of baked goods during the mid-autumn festival? I remember two other kinds of "cookies" that are extremely popular among the Foochows. I have forgotten what they're called now.

One is a rectangular shaped cookie, roughly 1" by 1.5", made from wheat flour I believe, with a sweet and slightly salty taste, and very fragrant with pork fat. The taste and texture reminds me a little of Scottish butter shortbread, if you can imagine substituting lard for the butter, and it's more crunchy than shortbread.

The other one is an unevenly shaped cookie, kinda like an elongated gnocchi, with pointy ends. It's very crunchy and sweet. It could well be deep fried, but I can't be certain. I think the name is laoshu bing (老鼠饼), but feel free to correct me.

The rectangular baked cookie has been a long time favorite of mine and I eat them whenever I can get them, even though they're traditionally made during the mid-autumn festival.

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To the non-Foochows reading, do you eat any other kind of baked goods during the mid-autumn festival?  I remember two other kinds of "cookies" that are extremely popular among the Foochows.  I have forgotten what they're called now.

One is a rectangular shaped cookie, roughly 1" by 1.5", made from wheat flour I believe, with a sweet and slightly salty taste, and very fragrant with pork fat.  The taste and texture reminds me a little of Scottish butter shortbread, if you can imagine substituting lard for the butter, and it's more crunchy than shortbread.

The other one is an unevenly shaped cookie, kinda like an elongated gnocchi, with pointy ends.  It's very crunchy and sweet.  It could well be deep fried, but I can't be certain.  I think the name is laoshu bing (老鼠饼), but feel free to correct me.

The rectangular baked cookie has been a long time favorite of mine and I eat them whenever I can get them, even though they're traditionally made during the mid-autumn festival.

For those of you who can't read Chinese, laoshu bing means "rat cookies". I kid you not. Doesn't sound appetizing to me, but that doesn't mean Laksa got the name wrong.

For those of you who can read Chinese, I am intrigued that you can get these characters to print in your posts. How are you doing this? Can you reply with some appropriate links?

Thanks.

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For those of you who can read Chinese, I am intrigued that you can get these characters to print in your posts.  How are you doing this?  Can you reply with some appropriate links?

If you have the proper language module installed in Windows and you know how to encode Chinese characters, you may enter those Chinese texts.

I don't have that, I just use a site that provides an English/pin-yin to Chinese translation: Chinese English Online Dictionary Input the words in English or Pin-Yin, then (hopefully) find the Chinese characters display and do some cut and paste work.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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For those of you who can read Chinese, I am intrigued that you can get these characters to print in your posts.  How are you doing this?  Can you reply with some appropriate links?

Thanks.

This page shows you how to set up inputting Chinese on Windows 2000. I'm sure there are other websites out there if you use a different OS.

I use the MS-PinYin98 IME. I find that the easiest to use. When in Chinese mode, I just have to type the pinyin in roman alphabet and the software will default to a particular character, which you can then change if it's not the right one.

Feel free to PM me if you need help with this.

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This page shows you how to set up inputting Chinese on Windows 2000.  I'm sure there are other websites out there if you use a different OS.

I use the MS-PinYin98 IME.  I find that the easiest to use.  When in Chinese mode, I just have to type the pinyin in roman alphabet and the software will default to a particular character, which you can then change if it's not the right one.

Feel free to PM me if you need help with this.

Thanks for that, Laska!

I will be away from the computer for a couple of days, but when I get back, I will try to implement it. I have a Wenlin program, and SOMEDAY I will chain myself to this chair and get it to work for me.

To keep this in the proper food mode, I will do all the above with a cup of tea and a few slices of mooncake -- trying to decide which filling I like best. Report will follow!

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Have a look at Renee's latest post on her Shiokadelicious blog for beautiful pictures of different types of mooncakes - Cantonese ones, snowskin, chao zhou...

While I thought ice cream mooncakes (or frozen yoghurt ones) or starbucks moon cakes were the peak of moon cake creativity, you have shown (through the blog) how totatlly wrong I was. What those in the Chinese diaspora are doing with the humble moon cake is simply amazing!

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For those of you who can't read Chinese, laoshu bing means "rat cookies". I kid you not. Doesn't sound appetizing to me, but that doesn't mean Laksa got the name wrong.

Did any of you eat "pig in a poke" jui jie bang cakes as a kid? My Po-Po always made sure I received one. Usually it just hangs in my room. I don't think they had any kind of filling in them, just sweet pastry?

Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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This page shows you how to set up inputting Chinese on Windows 2000.  I'm sure there are other websites out there if you use a different OS.

I use the MS-PinYin98 IME.  I find that the easiest to use.  When in Chinese mode, I just have to type the pinyin in roman alphabet and the software will default to a particular character, which you can then change if it's not the right one.

Feel free to PM me if you need help with this.

Actually, I don't want to input Chinese characters as much as be able to read Chinese-language websites.

Do I still have to go through that or is there an easier alternative?

Herb aka "herbacidal"

Tom is not my friend.

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Actually, I don't want to input Chinese characters as much as be able to read Chinese-language websites.

Do I still have to go through that or is there an easier alternative?

What operating system and browser are you using? With the latest versions of Windows and IE, it's all pretty much automatic. If you try to view a page with encoded fonts from another language, it will ask you if you want to download the fonts.

If you have an older version of Windows, the simplest thing might be to download the free NJ Star Asian Explorer browser. You can use it instead of IE when you want to view Asian web sites.

NJ Star Website

If you're a Mac user, I can't help you :hmmm:

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Did any of you eat "pig in a poke" jui jie bang cakes as a kid? My Po-Po always made sure I received one. Usually it just hangs in my room. I don't think they had any kind of filling in them, just sweet pastry?

These traditional treats are very hard to find in the U.S.A. They are not mass-produced using the cookie-cutter approach like many crackers and snacks. Yet the local bakeries don't bother making them (or not know how to make them) as sales are probably very slow on these items.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Did any of you eat "pig in a poke" jui jie bang cakes as a kid? My Po-Po always made sure I received one. Usually it just hangs in my room. I don't think they had any kind of filling in them, just sweet pastry?

Yes ... and I still do! :biggrin: We get 2 kinds of jue jie bang here - there's the flat animal shaped ones with no filling, just pastry. There's also the 3-dimensional piglets with lotus paste (leen yoong) filling.

I like the flat just pastry ones ... think they're like the Chinese version of gingerbread men.

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Yet the local bakeries don't bother making them (or not know how to make them) as sales are probably very slow on these items.

It's actually the easiest thing to do, baking these piggies. It's the same stuff as the skin of the traditional mooncake.

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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