Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Other Foods of the Moon Festival

Mid autumn festival always related with Mooncake, but the truth is it is not just the only food when celebrating this event. These are the other foods of the Moon Festival:

Salted Eggs

The humble duck egg becomes a prized commodity come Mid-Autumn. Duck eggs, which are salted, are one of the main ingredients for making moon cakes. Manufacturers of moon cakes will import them in bulk from places like China and Vietnam. However, only the yolk is used. Makes us wonder if anyone has come up with any idea to make use of the discarded egg whites. But nowadays, with the increase of housewives trying their hands at making moon cakes at home, market stalls have come up with the idea of selling just the yolks.

Lotus Seeds / Paste
The same goes for lotus seeds. The seeds are grinded and cooked with other ingredients to form a paste. Lotus paste is the binding element in a traditional moon cake. What differentiates a good piece of moon cake from a poorly made one is mainly the lotus paste. A good paste takes hours upon hours of work to cook to perfection. The finishing result should be a paste that's moist and not too sweet and of a thick consistence.

Piglet Biscuits
Known by the Cantonese as "Jue Zai Bang" (Piglet Biscuits), these are traditionally sold with moon cakes, mainly to attract the kids. Why the baked biscuits are shaped in the form of piglets is anyone's guess, but the colourful plastic baskets they come in sure reminds one of real pigs trapped in rattan baskets, ready for the slaughter. In any case, these piglet biscuits sure bring back the good old memories of childhood.

The word for pomelo in Chinese is homophonous with that for "blessing," and thus the fruit is considered auspicious. Since pomelo season coincides with Mid-Autumn Festival, this sweet fruit has naturally become a part of the festivities.

This prized fruit, resembling a giant grapefruit is distinguished by its pointed top, round bottom, thin skin and honey-sweet taste. Coincidentally, it is also the largest of all citrus fruits. In the olden days, after adults have peeled out the edible fruit, children used to stick candles in the middle of the skin (peeled to resemble an open flower). Mischievous ones may even use them as a hat over the head!

Water Caltrop (Bull's Horn)
The colloquial term for water caltrop in Chinese is "Ling Jiao" (Bull's Horn) for the simple reason because it truly resembles a bull's horn. The thick black shell of this nut has to be hammered to be broken open. Once cracked, it reveals a creamy white nut inside. This peculiar food is only available during the mid-autumn season.

Little Yams
Only sold during the Mid-Autumn Festival. These miniature yams are softer and fluffier than their bigger siblings. It's also one of those foods that families used to eat along with the Bull's Horns and moon cakes. Best eaten steaming hot - peel back the skin and dip the yam into granulated sugar with every mouthful.

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