The Moon Festival
In middle of the 8th month on the Chinese lunar calendar (approximately September), the Chinese celebrate the moon goddess. Mooncakes are given to family members, friends and clients during this period. We got some for our family and friends to taste.
There are 3 parts to mooncakes, the outside skin, up to two egg yolks and the filling. Good skin is quite thin, no more than ⅛ of an inch thick. It is brown outside from baking.
There are several types of filling, traditional, regional and what I call "ultra-modern". The traditional mooncake fillings are 5-seeds and lotus seeds. The 5-seeds filling, my grandfather's favorite, can include watermelon seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin, lotus seeds and peanuts. The special regional mooncake in Thailand has a durian filling and is my favorite mooncake. The flesh of ripe durian is churned over a stove into a paste. The paste is easy to work with because durian has high fat and sugar content, and is easy to shape into a thin skin. The flavor of the sweet durian is a perfect compliment to salty egg yolk. Recently, there are a few ultra-modern fillings like cream custard filling, jackfruit, coconut, pumpkin, seaweed and bird nest. One other new twist is “snow skin”.
We tasted durian filled mooncakes from Shangri-La Hotel, S&P and Hong Kong Fisherman side-by-side. The mooncakes from Shangri-La Hotel and S&P are large while the Hong Kong Fisherman’s are half their diameter.
The results are that the thin crust/skin winner is the Shangri-La Hotel. But their durian filling was too sweet for our tasters. While the Hong Kong Fisherman’s durian filling was the least sweet and the skin was the thickest of all three, our tasters like their flavor the best. I've had many S&P durian mooncakes on past trips to Thailand and I do like them very much. When asked about the other fillings, our tasters said ‘They were ok. Durian is the best.
If you are on the fence about eating durian, here is a safe chance to get your feet wet. The durian paste has mild durian aroma with rich and sweet flavors. Take the plunge!
Please share your opinion on other mooncakes that you like and let us know what we should check out.
Hong Kong Fisherman’s Mooncakes: 4 flavors are available, durian paste, lotus seeds, custard cream and green tea. They come in a box of 4, 6, 8, 12 with or without salty yolk. Price per piece: Lotus Seeds 48 baht, Custard Cream 25 baht, Golden Pillow-Durian 35 baht and Green tea 25 baht.