Mid-autumn Festival, also known as Moon Festival, is one of the most important festivals in some Asian countries which own the agricultural background. Held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month when the moon is at its fullest, this festival is to celebrate harvest and family gatherings. Along with playing laterns and performing lion dance, eating mooncakes is one of the most popular traditions in the Moon Festival.
Hopia by Chinese Filipinos
Moon Festival is one of the important holidays of the Chinese community in Philippines. Beside traditional mooncakes which are available from local sources, Chinese Filipinos have created their own version of mooncake called Hopia, literally means “good cake”. It has a variety of fillings such as hoping munggo (“mung-bean hopia”), hoping baboy (“pork hopia”), hoping ube (“purple-yam paste hopia) and hoping Hapon (“Japanese hopia”, not relevant to Japanese mooncakes in spite of the name).
Beside “Banh Nuong” with similar concept to Chinese traditional mooncakes, Vietnamese people have created their own signature mooncake called “Banh Deo” which is easily made from sticky rice. The crust is made from roasted wheat flour, grapefruit juice or vanilla and sugar water. The best grapefruit flowers are picked in the beginning of the season and had not been exposed to rainwater. The fillings can be similar to “Banh Nuong” but both crust and fillings are pre-cooked.
Korean traditional rice cake, “Songpyeon”
In South Korean, the Moon Festival is called Chuseok which is also known as Korean Thanksgiving day. This second most important festival in South Korea is one of its national holidays. For celebration, people visit their hometown, make and share the feast of their traditional food items. Rice cake, known as “songpyeon” can be described as Korean mooncake. “Songpyeon” is made from newly harvested rice and has a small crescent shape with stuffing filled inside. The fillings can be made from red beans, chestnuts, jujubes, powdered sesame or brown sugar. The round rice cake skin represents the shape of full moon and as when it is wrapped up with the contents, it becomes a crescent shape resembling half-moon. Korean relates the half-moon shape as an indicator of victory or bright future due to a legend about the war between two kingdoms. As it contains the wish for a bright future, it is no wonder that they always try their best to make the prettiest songpyeon.
“Tsukimi” or “O-Tsukimi” (literally means “moon viewing”) is Japanese own name for their Mid-Autumn Festival since they refer the full moon of the eight lunar month as having the most beautiful shape and brightness. Another Japanese variant of mooncake is called Tsukimi Dango that is made from rice flour with various flavours such as Chadango (green tea), Hanami (three colors from red beans, eggs and green tea), Goma (Dango with sesame seeds) and Kibi dango (made from millet flour). Tsukimi Dango is placed in a triangle on a wooden shelf, next to the vase of susuki grass. It is then presented on the porch or by the window where people can clearly see the moon. It is believed that it is a lucky thing if children, by chance, take the cakes.
China’s traditional mooncake
In China, mooncake is served as a round pastry with filling inside being traditionally a combination of duck egg yolk and a kind of thick paste. The round shape with a longevity symbol stamped on top represents the completeness, reunion and praying for a good future, which are the core meanings of this festival. The traditional thick paste includes Lotus seed paste, sweet bean paste, jujube paste and five kernels. Today, many new versions of Chinese mooncake have been created. Instead of traditional filling options, coffee, chocolate, nuts and even ham are used with different types of crust such as chewy, flaky, tender and snowy so as to serve the changing preferences of customers.
Some hotel mooncake collections in 2016
Today, many hotels have brought mooncakes to the next level of modernity and decency. The Finest will give you a tour of mooncake around the world, featuring some of the best hotel mooncake collections in 2016 that will fly you to the moon.
Grand Hyatt Singapore
Grand Hyatt Singapore is well known for its creations of snow skin mooncakes. This year, their collection includes strawberry, lime tequila truffle; black sesame with Buddha’s Hand truffle; caramel macchiato truffle; and matcha, azuki bean, sake truffle flavours. These handmade mooncakes are presented in a sophisticatedly designed box with pearl texture and golden accents of rich rose gold.
Four Seasons Beijing, China
Four Seasons Hotel Beijing’s signature mooncakes are filled with gourmet Valrhona chocolate with the distinct flavours. This year, Executive Pastry Chef Francesco Mannino has brought an innovative series of tastes, including matcha and raspberry, Earl Grey tea and blue flowers, Chinese five spices, lemon and blueberry, mango and orange, and salted caramel. Their appearance is simple and modern at the same time, and will give you a sumptuous surprise with hidden depths and complexities of the inside.
InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This mooncake collection by the InterContinental Kuala Lumpur features various types of flavours including Pure White Lotus Paste with Nuts, White Lotus Paste with Single Egg Yolk, Red Bean Paste with Black Sesame and Sun Dried Pumpkin Seeds, Scarlet Baked Snowskin with Pandan, Salted Bean Paste, and Beetroot, Shanghai Mooncake with Single Egg Yolk, Bamboo Charcoal with Assorted Nuts.
Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, Vietnam
This luxury hotel is launching its legendary mooncake collection at L’ Epicerie du Metropole with a combination of traditional and contemporary flavours. Beside traditional flavours including Traditional Mix, Lotus with Young Rice, they have added new flavours such as Red bean and mango, Caramel with dry fig and candied orange.
Le Méridien Saigon, Vietnam
To celebrate the traditional Mid-Autumn Festival in 2016, Le Méridien Saigon offers the delicious Moon Cakes collection chosen carefully by Chef Frederic. Let’s delight your taste buds by the healthy low-sugar option in full-moon treasures.