Mid-Autumn Festival is the 15th of the eighth month in Chinese calendar, when the moon was the fullest of the year and people would eat mooncakes to celebrate the festival.
Traditionally, the most popular mooncake flavour was lotus seed paste with salted duck egg yolk(s) inside. In recent years, different styles and flavours of mooncakes were developed: mini mooncakes, ice cream mooncakes, custard mooncakes and lava mooncakes etc.
We had an interview with three Hong Kong people to talk about how they think about mooncakes: Michelle Loo, celebrity and reputed food critic; Chef Yip Wing Wah, mooncake master who famously invented the popular egg custard mooncake 30 years ago; and Alpha Cheng, our founder of HONGKONGUIDE.
Q.1 What is your impression of mooncake?
Michelle Loo: When I was little, we had 5 children in the family. At that time mooncakes were not as affordable as modern days, so I always had to share with other family members whereas my dream was to get the slice with the whole piece of salted duck egg yolk inside. Unfortunately that never happened, I always got part of it only.
Alpha: To me, Mid-Autumn Festival is as important as Christians to westerners and mooncake is like turkey in Thanksgiving Day or Christmas. You can’t celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival without mooncakes. That is the main thing.
Chef Yip: How I see mooncakes is different from most other people. Mooncake is always in my mind because every year’s launch takes a year to prepare. I have to plan new products a year in advance.
Q.2 What is your favourite flavour?
Michelle: My favourite is Sweet Potato, the purple one, because the colour is so beautiful and it can fit vegetarians also!
Alpha: I like the traditional flavour, white lotus seed paste the most. When I was living in Australia, I had to buy this flavour from China Town because it is the flavour of Mid Autumn Festival and it made me feel like home.
Chef Yip: I like Lava Sesame, because it is my new launch this year and I was the first one who created it. I am so proud of this product!
Q.3 How do you like to eat mooncake?
Michelle: Traditional Chinese tea like Pu-Erh tea is perfect to match with mooncakes.
Alpha: I like to eat mooncake as dessert after dinner. Then I will visit a park nearby and look at the beautiful full moon.
Chef Yip: Lava mooncakes and Egg Custard mooncakes are already tasty at room temperature. People can also reheat them with oven at 150 degrees Celsius (or 300 degrees Fahrenheit) for 5 minutes to bring out more aroma.
Q.4 What is a quality mooncake?
Michelle: A good mooncake should be able to stand stiff, and the ingredients should be balanced. For example, white lotus seed mooncakes should not be full of the paste with a small egg yolk. Also the egg yolk should be in the middle of the cake. Since mooncake is supposed to be cut into small slices to share, if the egg yolk is not centred, the egg yolk will not be shared evenly.
A good mooncake should have the egg yolk centred.
If the egg yolk is not in the middle, it cannot be shared evenly when cut into slices.
Alpha: Mooncakes made in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is the best mooncake maker in the world. Since the processes of making mooncakes are very complicated and we still follow the most traditional way to make, mooncake manufacturers from other places like Singapore or Malaysia would hire mooncake masters from Hong Kong to learn from them.
Chef Yip: The thickness of lava has to be just right. If it is too diluted it will be absorbed into the stuffing or all the lava would come out right after you cut it so people cannot taste the lava; if the lava is too thick then of course it is not lava.
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