Friday, August 22, 2008

To Mooncake or Not

On my recent trip back to Malaysia I saw beautiful Mooncakes being sold everywhere. No longer contented with the traditional black bean paste, lotus paste with diced ham and fragrant nuts (Kum Thui), we now have chocolate, peanut butter, cappuccino, green tea, durian filled Mooncakes. The array become even more confusing with the Snow Skin version of Mooncakes - filled with strawberry, raspberries, blueberries, longan and every sort of flavor you can imagine. With the Snow Skin Mooncakes also comes the colors; the greens of the pandan and green teas, the pinks of the berries and others hues tinted by the fruits and herbs used. Then the sizes and shapes. Things sure has change from when double yolk Mooncake was the luxury!

Anyway, I was inspired to try to make Mooncake this year. My dear sister in law was kind enough to take me to buy some Mooncake moulds before I left ( and also a Ang Ku mould... hopefully more about that later). Of course, I have the dilemma of the alkali water aka Potassium Carbonate and Sodium Bi- Carbonate solution aka Kan Sui aka Lye water. I always knew that alkali water was involved in Mooncake as in many Chinese dishes.....and also how controversial it is. I guess I knew I would be trying this. Who was I kidding.

Anyway to the blogs I go to find out if there is a substitute for lye water / alkali water. I come across it being banned / pull off the shelves in Australia- highly cautic, strongly akaline. I read about Norwegian dishes that use it. Of European Artisian bakers who use lye and believe that there is no substitute for it.Pretzel makers use it (although I use sodium bicarbonate in pretzel recipes with good success. Will experiment at some point). Somehow the texture of traditional food is different without it. The Chinese use it in making Noodles, giving it the springy texture, the Kan Sui Koh, Kan Sui Chung (Rice Dumpling) to name a few. It boils down to being careful with it, using only a very small amount of it, keeping it out of the hands of children and buying food grade alkali / lye water, none of the drain cleaning grade!

So tonight, I have followed Betty Yew's Traditional Mooncake recipie and prepared my deadly starter for tomorrow's Mooncake skin. More tomorrow on the Mooncake adventure as I (hopefully) live and breath.

As a footnote, my husband bade me goodnight in the kitchen, with snide remarks about the potion I was going to kill him with.......


  1. Lah Sam Chiek Lah sam Tua

    It will take more the lye to do your husband in.

  2. One more you remember the copy of mum's cookbook? It has moon cake recipe there however involves milkpowder....want some of my son's similac?