kake: The word "菜單" (Chinese for "menu") in various shades of purple. (菜單)
[personal profile] kake
A round, golden-brown, raised-pastry pie with fluted edges and the Chinese characters 翡翠/蛋黃 embossed on top.

Next Wednesday is the fifteenth day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar, which is the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival. So even though it doesn't generally appear on actual Chinese menus, there's only one food item I could possibly pick for today's post — the mooncake (月餅/yuè bǐng).

As noted earlier this week, 餅 (bǐng) refers to a (usually) disc-shaped cake, biscuit, or pastry, and may appear on menus in a number of contexts. 月 (yuè) means "moon" or "month", and I've never seen it on a menu.

Mooncakes are pretty much the heaviest kind of cake/pastry that I've ever encountered — I don't think I've ever seen anyone eat a whole one, not even [personal profile] bob. Wikipedia states that they're "usually eaten in small wedges", while Carl Chu at When In Roam jokes that mooncakes given as gifts are then swiftly regifted over and over again "like a game of musical chairs [...] until the day of the festival", at which point the person who gets caught with the mooncakes "has the misfortune of having to eat them". I think this is a little unfair; they're really quite tasty as long as you don't overdo it.

Essentially, a mooncake consists of a smooth sweet filling (usually based on lotus seeds) encased in a soft golden-brown pastry. Embedded in the filling, you may also find one or more salted duck egg yolks (鹹蛋黃/xián dàn huáng) — the more yolks, the more expensive the mooncake (the one below has a single yolk, and cost just under £5). I personally find the yolks delicious, but others disagree!

By the way, I apologise for the brevity of this post, but my internet connection has been acting up all week, so it's been quite hard to get anything written at all. I have something special to post on Monday, though, so I hope that will make up for it!

The same pastry as pictured at the top of this post, but sliced into to reveal a dark green paste filling with a bright yellow egg yolk embedded in it.
If you have any questions or corrections, please leave a comment (here's how) and let me know (or email me at kake@earth.li). See my introductory post to the Chinese menu project for what these posts are all about.

Date: 2010-09-17 12:22 am (UTC)
ajnabieh: The McDonalds Arch, with text in Arabic reading "ماكدونالدز مصر"/makdunaldz masr/McDonalds Egypt. (ماكدونالدز)
From: [personal profile] ajnabieh
I...think I may have eaten a whole mooncake. But a small one? The type that's only like an inch-and-a-half across, with no egg yolk? I was also a freshman in college. My RA handed them out.


Date: 2010-09-17 07:29 am (UTC)
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
From: [personal profile] afuna
Whoa, I can't imagine ever eating a whole mooncake in one go. I might have been able to eat half as a kid, when my sweet tooth was stronger.... Mooncake in general seems best when savored in 1/8th wedgets at a time *g*

There's one variety of mooncake, only sold in Hong Kong as far as I know, which doesn't have the golden brown pastry shell. Instead, it's a soft, semi-sweet, somewhat mochi-like outer wrapper. It's quite interesting, but really hard to get because is delicate and doesn't ship well, or so I have been told!

There are also quite a lot of different flavored mooncake, including some fruit-flavored ones and some with nuts. It is my quite firm opinion that the classic lotus seed mooncake with double yolks is the best of the lot. Hehehe :)

Date: 2010-09-17 10:31 am (UTC)
shuripentu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] shuripentu
Yeah, an eighth is the standard slice size in my experience. You can go back for seconds, but much more than that is asking for trouble. :P

Date: 2010-09-18 01:22 pm (UTC)
afuna: Cat under a blanket. Text: "Cats are just little people with Fur and Fangs" (Default)
From: [personal profile] afuna
Ooh, yes! They taste good, too. (I am impressed by your google fu *G*)


December 2012


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