In China, one of the most emblematic dishes for the Mid-Autumn Festival, celebrated throughout East Asia, is the mooncake, a beautiful sweet with a thin, chewy skin and a myriad of fillings. However, today we were introduced to an intriguing variety of mooncake unlike any other variety we had seen: Suzhou or “Su” style mooncakes. This style of mooncakes from the city of Suzhou in the Yangtze River Delta has a different kind of “skin,” instead consisting of a shell of undecorated, multi-layered, flaky puff pastry! The filling for Suzhou mooncakes can be either sweet or savory, which is atypical of other mooncakes. To prevent any surprises, a red mark on top often distinguishes the sweet mooncakes from the savory. The version I tried was filled with sweetened squash, nuts and black sesame, though red bean is also typical. If you would like to make your own savory version, Food 52 and the New York Times have versions stuffed with pork, while the Woks of Life has a sweet red bean version.
Tag Archives: mooncakes
It’s almost time for the Mid-Autumn Festival in China and Vietnam (September 15 this year), which means one thing – mooncakes (yue bing)! Mooncakes are round, molded pastry cakes with dense fillings, and have been eaten in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival since the Ming Dynasty. Mooncakes, as befits their name, are said to represent the moon, and are traditionally imprinted with the Chinese characters for longevity or harmony. Mooncakes are made with pastry crust and are traditionally filled with red bean or lotus paste with whole egg yolks, but the fillings vary wildly, depending on location. You can buy pre-made mooncakes with countless crust and filling types at most Asian grocery stores or bakeries (and even more elaborate varieties if you are in Hong Kong), but you can also make them on your own! Andew Gooi has a lovely video of how mooncakes are made, which you can see below.
Mooncakes are traditionally shaped with wooden molds, but you can also find some plastic or silicone (round or square) online. Making mooncakes is a multi-step process and may require some special ingredients from a well-stocked Asian grocery, like golden syrup, which you can also make on your own. China Sichuan Food and House of Annie have recipes for a traditional Cantonese version with egg yolk and red bean filling. Serious Eats has a recipe without the egg yolk. If you are feeling lost, Omnivore’s Cookbook has an extremely comprehensive recipe and step-by-step guide for the mooncake newbie newbie. If you are in the mood for something avant-garde, Christine has a recipe for for the more modern green tea custard or pandan snow skin mooncakes.