- Food and Cooking
Pork Pies and Mooncakes
Mooncake is a traditional Chinese snack for celebrating mid-autumn Festival, a Chinese holiday dating back thousands of years. During the mid-autumn season everyone exchanges mooncakes.
Traditional mooncake vary widely depending on the region where the mooncake is produced. While most regions produce traditional mooncakes with many types of fillings, they usually only make their mooncake from one type of crust or another. There are two types of mooncake crust:
Cantonese-style mooncakes are chewy. This crust has a reddish-brown tone and glossy sheen. It is also the most commonly seen type of mooncake in western countries. Cantonese mooncake crusts are made using a combination of thick sugar syrup, lye water, flour, and oil, thus giving this crust its rich taste and a chewy yet tender texture. Chewiness can be increased further by adding maltose syrup to the mixture.
Suzhou-style mooncakes are flaky. The crusts are made by rolling together alternating layers of oily dough and flour that has been stir-fried in oil. This crust has a very similar texture to the likes of puff pastry.
Typical fillings for mooncakes include lotus seed paste, red bean paste, nuts & seeds for sweet taste, or pork for salty taste, and there's usually egg yolk in the middle representing the full moon.
Mooncakes are rather high in calories. They normally make the pastry from lard, some from vegetable oil, for an optimum mouthfeel. People usually eat them only a quarter or half at a time.
When I first came to UK, I was puzzled in a supermarket to see pork pies what looked like Suzhou-style mooncakes with pork fillings. They couldn't be, could they? As I bought some and heated in the oven, I found out not only the looking but its taste are similar to pork mooncake. The only differences are that mooncakes have an imprint on top consisting of Chinese characters indicating the brand and fillings, and have a variety of fillings besides pure pork.