Fly me to the moon – with a bite of the moon cake !
Every year, around the last week of August, children in Vietnam would start getting restless. One reason is because summer is close to an end, although around this point in Vietnam it would still be very hot. Another major reason is the approach of a well-loved festival aptly named the Mid-autumn Festival or Trung Thu in Vietnamese.
People anticipate the Mid-autumn festival for different reasons: the beautiful decorations around the city, the flickering lights and lanterns, the toys, the lively gathering of the neighbourhood, etc… But for me, there was always only one reason, one reason to rule them all: Moon Cake a.k.a Banh Trung Thu (Literally Mid-autumn Cake).
Types of moon cake
Many countries have moon cakes in different style with different fillings. Vietnamese moon cakes can be categorized according to taste into Sweet and Savoury, or according to its crust into Baked a.k.a Banh Nuong (Made with wheat flour) or Sticky Rice a.k.a Banh Deo (Made with sticky rice). They are usually round with an 8-10cm diameter or square with a width of 7-8cm, the height of all moon cakes fall into the 4-5cm range. Some bakers also invent their own shapes such as the shapes of piglets, fishes,…
Banh Nuong and Banh Deo.
Moon cakes in the shape of piglets. Source: hoclambanhtrungthu.com
Whether it’s sweet or savoury, baked or sticky, a pig or a fish, one ingredient remains the same: the salted egg yolk, the sun of the moon cake universe. In recent years, however, vegetarian moon cakes have omitted the egg.
Trivia: In the 1980s, a type of moon cake that appeared similar to the Sticky Rice moon cake was popularized in Hong Kong and later spread to other East Asian nations. It was known as Snow Skin Moon Cake.
Sweet moon cakes
I, personally, only consume sweet moon cakes. Their sweet fillings melt in your mouth and go perfectly with a cup of green tea.
Traditionally sweet moon cakes have 3 primary fillings: lotus seed paste, mung bean paste, or five kernels. Modern sweet moon cakes include trendier flavoured fillings such as chocolate, matcha, coffee, and durian, which are popular among the younger generation.
From left to right: lotus seed paste, mung bean paste, five kernels.
Savoury moon cakes
Savoury moon cakes are the non-vegetarian option. Its fillings usually contain sugared cubes of lard, jambon, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, Vietnamese sausage, salted egg yolk, etc or a similar variant of ingredients.
Savoury moon cakes. Source: baomoi.com
In recent years, entrepreneurial youngsters have started to bake their own moon cakes with creative fillings of their own to sell to friends and families during the time of the festival.
Homemade moon cakes from a local home bakery. Source: Foody.vn
Moon cupcakes – an innovative creation. Source: nhichanstudio
Beautifully designed moon cakes. Source: mami9.com
During the festival, moon cakes are the gifts of choice. Friends and families gift homemade moon cakes or from popular brands such as Kinh Do, Givral, Bibica, Nhu Lan, and more.
A box of moon cakes from Kinh Do. Source: doanhnhiephoinhap.vn
It is now also a common practice for businesses to gift their important clients and partners high-end luxury moon cakes in intricately designed boxes as a show of goodwill.
A high-end Moon cake gift set complete with a bottle of liquor. Source: eat.com.vn
The Mid-autumn Festival is just around the corner, so watch this space for our continuing series on the Mid-autumn Festival and also for a very interesting event happening soon at Vietcentric !