Monday, September 12, 2011

Mid Autumn means Moon Cake!

The Chinese call it Zhong Qiu Jie 中秋節 and the Koreans call it Chuseok 추석.  Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th of the 8th month when the moon is most round.  That is also the reason why moon cakes are available only during this season.

Mooncakes are usually made with lotus seeds. Honestly, I did not know what lotus seeds were until this blog post.  I know that moon cakes are usually called Lotus Moon Cakes but I never really bothered to find out why it's called lotus.  I probably shouldn't say it but the ignorance in me just assumed it's something to do with Buddhism, meditation, or it's a mythical ingredient like food of the gods (literally) haha.  So here's a photo of the Lotus Seeds, if not made into paste, it's just seeds to snack on, and also to make into prayer beads! If you wanna know more read this.

So there are quite a few Chinese bakeries here in Manila that make Lotus Moon Cakes but they're just not doing them right.  There are a few variations to the moon cake, they have the ones with nuts, the ones with duck yolk, there's the double duck yolk (my favorite!).  There are also other flavors like Mung Bean, Red Bean, Pineapple and others.

I wasn't a fan of Moon Cakes until I tasted one that was given to us by a family friend who just came back from Hong Kong.  It was normal looking from the outside, the packaging was unassuming, it looks like your normal moon cake.  It was called Kee Wah Supreme Mooncakes


We quartered the moon cake and there it was, double yolk lotus moon cake, oozing with rich duck egg oil.  For those who are health conscious, you'd probably think that might be a bad thing, but no for me, at least not for the Chinese, we love oily food!  and then you bite into it, it's so soft, so smooth, just the right amount of sweetness to contrast the touch of saltiness of the duck yolk.

For those who are addicted to moon cakes, you have to watch out for these little monsters.  In Hong Kong they even show warning commercials locally to eat moon cakes moderately, apparently a lot of people get high cholesterol and die from eating too much.

Check out these tips on how to eat moon cake:

Unhealthy Eating No. 1: Eating several moon cakes in one single day Some moon cake lovers, especially the youth, who like moon cake with filling of egg yolk or fruits, will take moon cake as dinner and eat several cakes in one day. The experts pointed out that "it is inappropriate to eat more than one moon cake in one day. No matter how much you love moon cake, it shall not be taken as dinner food, because the sugar and fat one moon cake contains are much higher than rice. The acceptable daily intake of sugar shall be no more than 10 tea spoons, and the content of sugar in one moon cake can reach 14 tea spoons, which is more than the need of the body for the whole day. And the acceptable daily intake of fat shall be no more than 13 tea spoons, and the content of fat in one moon cake can reach 6 tea spoons. It is recommended by the expert that one shall not eat excessive moon cakes. When eating moon cake, it is better to divide the cake to smaller pieces and share with families and friends in order to avoid excessive intake of fat and sugar. Moon cake shall also not be taken as dessert after meal because it contains too little fiber to be the substitute for fruit. 
Unhealthy Eating No. 2: Take moon cake as breakfast Some people like to store some moon cakes and eat them as breakfast. The experts pointed out that "this habit is against the principle of balanced nutrition". The three meals in the day shall be eaten in accordance with the principle of balanced nutrition with the food intake proportion of 30% for breakfast, 40% for lunch and 30% for supper. If one only eat moon cakes for breakfast, then the body takes more fat and sugar but fewer protein. And if this lasts long, the nutrition situation of body will change. It is better to take moon cake as a pastry or supporting food rather than the main course. Sugar-free moon cake improves its flavor with sweetening agent, but it does not mean that moon cake contains no sugar. According to "Guide Manual of Moon Cake Consumption", sugar-free moon cake contains starch which is polysaccharose in itself. As to the vegetarian moon cakes with filling of fruits or vegetables may also contain starch in its crust. Starch is a kind of carbohydrate which may transform to glucose, and eventually leading to the increase of blood sugar. To the overweight people, after eating moon cake, they should reduce the intake of rice and oil to balance the nutrition of the day. A Guangdong-style moon cake of 200g contains energy of 500 calories, and a bowl of rice only contains energy of 270 calories. It is advisable that overweight people with potential sugar and fat metabolic disorder and arteriosclerosis shall eat fewer moon cakes as diabetes patients do. 
Drink tea after eating moon cake After eating moon cake, it is better to drink some tea, lemonade or eat some vegetables for the purpose of balancing nutrition and reasonable dieting. The doctors suggest eating moon cake three hour after meal (those who shall avoid eating moon cake should not eat at all). Eating moon cake before the stomach completely digests the food will cause gastrectasia and lead to maldigestion. It is highly recommended not to eat moon cake for midnight snack. It is OK to eat moon cake for midnight snack occasionally, but not for long. The time of eating moon cake shall be not close to sleeping time. In addition, moon cake is hard to digest, so excessive intake of moon cake will cause problems in liver or gall, and other acute complicating disease in digesting system, such as abdominal distension, chest distress, vomiting, no appetite, constipation, etc. Before eating moon cake, it is good to eat some salty food in order to not feel too greasy, to drink some green tea to digest faster, to drink some soup or herb water such as appetite stimulating tea (like Sour plum juice), digest promoting tea (water with Chinese herbs like hawthorn, fleece-flower root, and cassia seed) to clean intestines and stomach. Some pepsin tablet can also help digesting but please control the amount of pepsin tablets taken.

As I've mentioned in my Best Burger Post is that if ever you're depriving yourself from evil food like moon cake, Peking Duck, or burger etc, for whatever reason it is, make sure that it's worth it!