The Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节) falls on October 1st in the eventful year of 2020. It is one of the most important days for Chinese people as well as people in many other countries heavily influenced by Chinese culture. The most common activity on this day is "moon-viewing" (赏月). The idea is that even though you are not able to see your family and friends, you know they are looking at the same full moon and thinking about you, too.
In recent years, as high-speed railways are built and with the spread of technologies, people in China no longer need to look at the moon and long for their families. However, traditional activities are still widely practiced and appreciated. Out of these traditions, the most popular and indispensable is absolutely eating mooncakes (月饼). Here are 5 of the most popular mooncake flavors in China. Some of them have been popular for centuries, while others are recent inventions.
1 Lotus Seed Paste with Salted Egg Yolks 莲蓉蛋黄
When salted duck egg yolk is surrounded by a thick layer of lotus seed paste, magic happens. The saltiness and rich flavor of the yolk compliment the delicate sweetness of the lotus paste perfectly.
Lotus Mooncakes with salted egg yolks have been enjoyed by people in Canton for centuries. However, due to the scarcity of its ingredients, this flavor has been a luxury in China until recent years.
2 Red Bean Paste 红豆沙
Any desert with red bean paste is good, but red bean paste in mooncakes is especially tasty! Since the mooncake is heavily compressed into its shape, the paste inside becomes firm and thick, so you get to enjoy the full flavor of red beans in just one bite.
Sometimes the red bean paste can be a bit too sweet of some people. If you think it's too sweet, make some green tea to go with it. Green tea and red-bean-paste mooncakes are perfect with enjoyed together.
3 Green Tea 绿茶
Yes! Green tea can be made into mooncakes, too. Despite that both mooncakes and green tea have existed for a long time in China, they were not put together to make mooncakes until recent years, because the technology to extract the flavors from green tea did not exist. This flavor balances bitter and sweetness really well. It is perfect for thos who don't like sweet foods.
4 Cream Cheese 奶酪芝士
Dairy products rarely appear in traditional Chinese diet, but even Chinese people cound not resist the richness of cream cheese. This perfect combination of the eastern and western flavors might be the greatest derivative of China's Great Opening and Reform (改革开放) Policy.
5 Five Nuts 五仁
This traditional flavor is made of a dozen of ingredients, out of which the coarsely chopped nuts give it the name. The nuts used differ by region. While Cantonese people tend to add meat products such as pork or ham in the filling, northerners like it with purely nuts.
As companies quickly innovated many new mooncake flavors since the 1990s, many youngsters have gradually developed a distaste of the five-nuts filling, as it is still prefered by most elderly people. This is yet another demonstration of how the taste buds of Chinese people have changed over the years.