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Where to order mooncakes?

Low Country Jon Aug 24, 2006 08:59 PM

The Harvest Moon festival falls on October 6 this year, and I'm looking for recs on where to order mooncakes for shipment within the US. Also, I welcome suggestions on what kind to buy, as this will be my first foray into the world of mooncakes. While a mooncake novice, I'm an old hand when it comes to Asian teas, and I'll probably be enjoying my cakes with Fanciest Formosa Oolong, Dragon Phoenix Pearls, and/or Supreme Silver Needle.

  1. limster Aug 26, 2006 03:30 AM

    White teas like the silver needle might be a little too delicate against most varieties of mooncakes. I suspect that while the elegant nutty flavour will hold, the more mellow herbaceous sweetness of silver needle might be lost against a mooncake. But perhaps a mooncake with white lotus filling may not be as overwhelming.

    1. s
      S_K Aug 26, 2006 03:06 AM

      I may be mistaken because it's been awhile since I've had one, but I think they do. Or it could be that I just had a very mild bean filling. (On second thought, it is probably that I had a dense mild bean filling because I think they always have fillings.) Some fillings are more dense than others, which is why I was mistaken. And the outer part of the mooncake is flaky because of the lard. So, I guess you could say it's kind of like a flaky lard biscuit with a filling, only not cakey or bready.

      If someone else could chime in to confirm or correct, it would be good. :)

      1. s
        S_K Aug 25, 2006 08:14 PM

        Vietnamese stores sometimes carry Chinese sweets. You can ask them. Also ask the delis. They sometimes carry them. If they don't carry them, ask Chinese people where they get their mooncakes from.

        Personally, I prefer the moon cakes that have no filling or have sweet fillings. My parents like the ones with salty egg fillings. You could order a mixed box.

        2 Replies
        1. re: S_K
          h
          Humbucker Aug 26, 2006 01:19 AM

          They make mooncakes without fillings? Is it just like a solid biscuit?

          1. re: Humbucker
            liu Aug 26, 2006 05:21 AM

            Yes, mooncakes have fillings. The more traditional ones are filled with eggs, or other spreads such as lotus seed, red bean, chestnut or jujube. The more modern fillings include pastes of pineapple, lychee or a nut mixture. I suppose there will be other "modern" fillings available as this delicacy evolves with time.

            The "cake" and the paste filling tend to be very dense; a little piece of a whole biscuit is a mouthful. I think tea is the perfect accompaniment.

        2. TexasToast Aug 24, 2006 10:53 PM

          Is a mooncake related at all to a moonpie?

          TT

          3 Replies
          1. re: TexasToast
            liu Aug 24, 2006 11:28 PM

            I am not a food historian, but I do not think they are related.

            The MoonPie was developed in the early 1900s -- 1917 so documented -- by the Chattanooga Bakery in Tennessee. It is round, chocolate covered, and if you take a bite, it looks like a moon.

            In contrast, the mooncake is a Chinese confection that is traditionally eaten during the Autumn Festival. I have never seen a chocolate one, and they are not always round; it is a pastry with a paste filling such as chestnut, lotus seed, red bean, or jujubee. Sometimes there might be egg inside which has a symbolic meaning related to the full moon. Today's mooncakes might have other less traditional fillings such as pineapple or lychee or nuts. It oftentimes (perhaps always?) has an imprint in the top that might be a Chinese character to "longevity" or "good health," or it might be the stamp of the bakery, or it might just be decorative.

            Mooncakes are somewhat difficult to make and thus considered a delicacy. It is very dense and therefore usually cut into small bites to be enjoyed with tea.

            Mooncakes vary from region to region, and Japan has its own version as well.

            This is a very cursory comparison; perhaps someone far more knowledgeable than I will offer more detail.

            1. re: liu
              k
              Kater Aug 24, 2006 11:40 PM

              Here's a site that includes a nice overview about mooncakes.

              http://www.familyculture.com/holidays/mooncake.htm

              And here is a link to a vendor list

              http://www.familyculture.com/holidays/mooncake_order.htm

              Kee Wah is a reputable vendor who will ship mooncakes:

              http://www.keewah.us/shop.html

              1. re: liu
                TexasToast Aug 25, 2006 09:01 AM

                Well that's good to know, as I'd never heard of a mooncake, but I knew that moonpies came from Chatanooga, TN.

                TT

            2. liu Aug 24, 2006 09:49 PM

              Your tea choices sound wonderful! Your chow profile says you are in the South...? I am in Los Angeles, and most of my mooncake education has come from wandering the Asian markets about this time of the year; many offer samples of their festival items, including mooncakes. Not all mooncakes are created equal! So, if you have such markets near you, try this approach so that you can compare them side-by-side. Some are definitely better than others. Textures can vary, and for me the spread inside varies greatly among them.

              If you don't have Asian markets in your area, you are early enough that perhaps some of the places where you might order will send you a sample pack -- for a small fee.

              3 Replies
              1. re: liu
                Low Country Jon Aug 25, 2006 08:05 PM

                I live in Charleston, SC, and there aren't too many Asian markets here. The ones I'm familiar with are Vietnamese. I know the Vietnamese celebrate their own version of the Harvest Moon Festival, but I'm not sure they include mooncakes as part of their celebrations.

                Kater's links look promising. Now my question is, should I order my cakes with egg yolks or without? Are the yolks cooked or uncooked, sweet or salty or neither? Are they something of an acquired taste, as I've heard suggested?

                1. re: Low Country Jon
                  PeterL Aug 25, 2006 08:15 PM

                  Many of the Vietnamese here in this country are Chinese Vietnamese, and they do keep Chinese traditions.

                  1. re: Low Country Jon
                    PBSF Aug 25, 2006 08:16 PM

                    The yolks are cooked and left whole inside the mooncakes. It is slightly salted. Since the rest of the filling tend to be on the sweet side, the saltiness is a good counter balance and also adds another dimension. The yolk is an acquire taste. Mooncakes are very rich, therefore, they are usually cut up and shared.

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