The Vietnamese Mooncake
These are a sweet specialty found throughout Viet Nam in Mid-Autumn festival. If a cake is perfectly made, one can finish the entire treat without feeling bloated. If not. then even one slice can seem too much. The recipe determines how delicious, rich, or soft a cake is and how long it will last without spoiling.
Mooncakes are made with a variety of tastes, old and new. According to the manager of the Long Xuong Bakery in District 5, Ho Chi Minh City, Chinese people living around Cho Lon made the first mooncakes. A traditional Chinese moon cake should Taste sweet and fatty and should smell of therapeutic herbs. Some experienced bakers make the filling of these cakes with Chinese dried sausage, roast lean pork, and fish fins. They mix the ingredients with herbs and spices, especially dried ginger, in a special formula that offers both salty and sweet tastes.
Mooncakes made in northern Vietnam are also sweet but less rich than those from the south. Their fillings often smell of lemon leaves, mandarin orange, and grapefruit peels. Deo (soft) moon cakes made in Ha Noi are especially delicious. The fragrance of grapefruit flowers emerges as soon as you bite into the coating of sticky-rice paste.
Some mooncake producers in Ho Chi Minh City such as Kinh Do, Dong Khanh, Ai Hue, Hy Lam Mon also add mixtures of coconut and milk, taro root and milk, durian, green bean, and cocoa or hazelnuts. A few local bakers add whisky to give their cakes’ filling a special taste. Thanh Long in Ho Chi Minh City even makes diet moon cakes that are cholesterol-free and taste less sweet.
Other cakes bear influences from beyond Viet Nam. The Equatorial Hotel makes Malaysian-style cakes from red beans and sesame oil. or lotus seeds and sweet-smelling leaves. They cover the cakes with a coating of chocolate. Hong Kong’s Saint Honore Cakes also come in many flavours, including soybeans with orange flavour, white lotus, black beans, and lotus seeds with tea.
Most mooncakes are either round or square. However, some are shaped like pigs or fish.
Mooncakes can be eaten right after they are made, but they definitely taste belter when eaten at the right time. Traditionally, a mooncake is served three days after baking so that the oil in the filling can seep into the coating, making it soft and creating a delicious, rich taste. Newly baked cakes tend to be dry and hard. Today, however, according to Luu Lap Chanh. owner of Hy Lam Mon Bakery in Ho Chi Minh City, modern technology and new recipes allow the oil to seep into the coating in just twelve hours, although this makes the cakes less tasty than the traditional three-day method.
Moon cakes are often packed with sugar and calories. According to the Kinh Do Confectionery Company in 116 Chi Minh City, a 200-gram cake filled with green beans contains as many as 700 kilocalories. whereas an adult needs about 2.000 kilocalories a day for basic health. A mooncake has all the ingredienis for putting on weight: starch, fat. and sugar. Sugar accounts for between 40% and 60% of a cake’s weight. Thus, an average 200-gram cake may contain more than 100 grams of sugar. Cakes that are high in sugar, roast pork, fatty meat, and oily fillings provide even more calories.
Moon cakes are easy to keep. During normal weather conditions, they can last fifteen days. Some vacuum-packed cakes, those packed in airtight boxes with humidity or oxygen absorbers, and those treated with ultraviolet rays may last longer, but ihey still should be eaten within one month. Consumers should be careful about cakes that are kept in normal conditions yet seem to last several months; !he producer may have used an anti-mold agent, which is believed to be harmful to health.