Despite experiencing many changes in history and society, even though the living conditions are at times extremely difficult, the mooncake in Vietnam always appears in the mid-autumn festival in everywhere, from the countryside to the urban area.
The mid-Autumn period falls in the eighth lunar month, around the summer in September of the solar calendar, in the middle of three months of autumn, so it is called Mid-Autumn Festival.
At this time, the sky is clear, and the moon is very full, the most beautiful autumn moon in the year.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is also an opportunity for families to gather, open a small party to watch the moon, enjoy tea while tasting the mooncakes.
Traditional Mooncake in Vietnam
The cake represents the moon with its radiant and round beauty. A pair of cakes, including sticky and grilled ones, represent two sides of yin and yang, in which the sticky cake represents the bright moon with a pristine shape.
Many countries in Asia share the same Mid-Autumn Festival due to the use of the same crop calendar according to the lunar calendar, and Vietnam is among them.
However, in terms of tradition, Vietnamese pastries and sticky mooncakes have their own characteristics.
If traditional Chinese cakes use glutinous rice flour filled with pure red bean paste and salted eggs or char siu, then traditional Vietnamese mooncakes are a mixture of sugar, fat, melon seeds, lime leaves, sausage or dried chicken, pumpkin jam, lotus jam, and roasted sesame. All the ingredients are mixed with Mai Que Lo wine and malt.
Different parts of the ingredients and the round shape of the mooncakes have meanings to pray for good weather and rich agricultural products and wish for family reunification.
The way of making traditional moon cakes is also very sophisticated. Mooncake ingredients have to be prepared long before, even a few months in advance.
Red sugar is cooked with pineapple or lemon, malt, and ash water (that comes from the ashes of the rice straw). After cooking well, this liquid is put in a jar and kept from two to three months until it has a beautiful color before making the cakes.
This sugar liquid is mixed with the cake crust powder so that when baked, the cakes have a nice brown color and are soft after baking one day.
The sticky mooncake crust is made from glutinous rice flour. After roasted and finely ground, the flour is mixed with sugar water, a little cooking oil, and grapefruit oil for fragrance.
The sugar water here is different from baking sugar, which only dissolves the sugar with hot water, not cooked, and left it for a long time.
The difference of Vietnamese traditional sticky mooncake is the light scent but the pure aroma of pomelo oil.
The people collect the grapefruit flowers in March, then steam to extract the pure oil. Grapefruit oil used in mooncakes or Vietnamese sweet soup is a typical flavor of the Vietnamese.
The modern kinds of Vietnamese mooncakes
Through the ups and downs of history, besides the traditional mooncake flavors, there are many new types of cakes created based on traditional recipes.
Green bean cake, salted egg red bean, bamboo charcoal, roasted chicken, bird’s nest filling, tiramisu filling, chocolate, green tea, taro, nuggets, coconut milk, black sesame, coffee, etc. And, the watermelon seeds in traditional mooncake Vietnam can also be replaced by Macca nuts, cashews, walnuts, or almonds.
The crust of the mooncakes has many changes as well. Depending on their taste preferences, the baker can be creative by mixing different ingredients such as bamboo charcoal, cocoa powder, green tea powder, purple sweet potato powder.
The cake surface is not only embossed according to the existing traditional style, but there are cakes decorated with Vietnamese flowers and different colors, like a painting.
These mooncakes are also very elaborate. The bakers make the flowers separately and use different colors, mostly from vegetables or food coloring for the floral details.
Some people also make multi-layer crusts with the eye-catching colors interwoven, creating various colorful mooncakes for the exciting festival.
For the sticky mooncakes, besides traditional cakes, there are now a variety of fillings like grilled cakes. Also, different kinds of mooncakes from Singapore, Taiwan are introduced in Vietnam, making the sticky mooncakes more abundant.
Nowadays, most families in the Vietnamese map can make mooncakes using already-prepared ingredients sold in the bakery stores, including crust powder and fillings.
The flavors of moon cakes have differences from traditional cakes to modern ones.
The bakers can add various ingredients to the mooncake fillings that strongly influence the flavour of the cake.
Mixed filling mooncakes include many kinds of fillings with various flavours from the sea – such as lobster, scallops, fish fins, or salmon, and nuts – such as pumpkin seeds, peanuts, and walnut. Under the talented hands of the bakers, these ingredients combine perfectly to become a fine taste. These flavors have become a delicious, nutritious, and unique cake in the Mid-Autumn Festival.
With salted-egg-yolk mooncakes, they have the characteristic aroma of egg yolks, salty taste, fatty taste, and light aromas of mung beans or lotus seeds. The egg yolk is in the middle of the cake, surrounded by a layer of smooth mung beans and a thin crispy crust.
With some types of sticky mooncakes in Hanoi, you will find the delicate flavour, and light scent of grapefruit flowers, along with the soft, sweet, greasy, and right-toned fleshy taste. Especially the outer is made from glutinous rice, so you will smell the gentle scent of the new sticky smell. All combined to form an irresistible taste.
Mooncakes being sweet gifts
The development of society has brought about new conceptions of nutrition. And today, the economic conditions of Vietnamese families are all improved, so the moon cakes are no longer an eager gift waiting for everyone.
Mooncakes became an expensive gift to give or to make a relationship. Besides, many people do not want to eat moon cakes because of the sweetness and fatness higher than normal nutritional standards.
However, for some children, the mooncakes still have their own charm. The small joy for children is the feeling of excitement when receiving the beautiful mooncakes shaped like fish, piglets, or moon shapes. That is the childhood experience for many people as well.
Even though society undergoes many changes, the mooncakes in Vietnam are still forever an indispensable part of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
>>> You may want to see Vietnamese cooking and eating habits.
Mung bean mooncake recipe
As mentioned above, Vietnamese mooncakes come in many varieties. We like to introduce to you the recipe for making mung bean mooncakes, which has the simplest way to make it.
So with just a few steps, easy to find ingredients, you can make beautiful mooncakes at home.
200 grams of mung beans without skin,
150 grams of sugar,
50 grams of cooking oil,
50 grams of malt,
30 grams of mooncake flour,
Grapefruit or vanilla perfume.
Cake crust part:
700 grams of sugar liquid for sticky cake,
1 teaspoon cooking oil,
1/2 teaspoon grapefruit oil,
350 grams of mooncake flour,
150 grams of mooncake mold.
The steps to make mooncakes with mung bean filling
Make the cake filling:
Wash mung beans carefully, and soak them in water for 2 hours to make them soft.
Then put the beans in a pot and cover with water, cook until soft. While cooking the beans, be careful not to cover the lid to avoid spilling.
Put the cooked beans in a blender, and puree the mixture.
Pour the beans into the non-stick pan, and add sugar, stir on the low heat and continuously do that for a few minutes, then add oil and mix them together.
When you see the beans start to thicken, take 30 grams of sticky rice flour, dissolve it with a little water and put it in a pan of beans, stir until the bean paste into a block.
At that time, you add the malt and mix well. Then, add a little grapefruit oil or vanilla, continue mixing them on medium heat.
Then, all ingredients mix together, take the pan out of the fire. Keep the mixed filling cool down.
Divide the mixture into 50 g balls (which are used for 150 g mooncake molds), cover them with plastic, and store them in a cool compartment of the fridge.
Making the mooncake crust:
Fill a clean bowl with sugar water, add grapefruit perfume, and a little cooking oil, then stir well.
Put the dough and mix well until you see the dough thicken.
Put it on a clean table, use the force of your palm to pull the dough and squeeze it until it is smooth, not sticky.
Divide the powder into 100 g, and press it flat.
Place the mung bean ball in the middle and gently wrap the cake so that the filling does not leak out.
Take a little dry powder and sprinkle it over the cake and mooncake mold to prevent stickiness.
Place the dough (that already added filling) in the mold and squeeze it well, keep it for 30 seconds.
The mooncake after making can be put in a plastic bag sealed or store it in a sealed box for storage.
The sticky mooncake should be enjoyed on the second day when the crust becomes clearer.
Unique types of Vietnamese mooncakes
In addition to the popular baked mooncakes with traditional fillings, many typical versions are modified to create a diverse and attractive cuisine for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Here are the unique ones to check.
O Mai Mooncake
This combination carries the flavor of Hanoi because O Mai (sour-salted plum) is the famous specialty of this city. Using O Mai as a filling for moon cakes brings a different taste; besides the traditional sweet and salty taste, the cake will have a little sour taste of O Mai. O Mai mooncakes have baked and fresh cakes. O Mai kernel is chopped and mixed with green beans, green tea, and nuggets to create a very unique flavor.
Xoi Xeo Mooncake
Xoi xeo, one of the famous Vietnamese sticky rice, is a familiar breakfast dish in Hanoi, but this food used to make moon cakes is a strange idea. Xoi xeo mooncakes still have the same crust as traditional baked ones, but the stickiness and softness will be higher. The highlight of this dish is the filling with Xoi Xeo sticky rice, including green beans, meat, pork, white sesame, and typical onion fat. You can find a few shops selling this typical mooncake in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
This special Vietnamese moon cake is inspired by the famous Japanese Mochi and super Hot black sugar pearls. Thoughtful but unrelated names combine to create a very attractive flavor. The black sugar or chocolate mochi mooncake has a very thin, soft, spongy, and fragrant shell. The filling has two layers, a milky outside and a sticky black sugar mochi inside. This kind of mooncake is moderately sweet and very easy to eat.
Many people are curious about the combination of very luxurious seafood such as lobster, sea cucumber, and king crab with mooncakes and want to know what its flavor is. The crust is still fragrant, thin, and light, but the filling is the highlight. The filling is a very strong taste with seafood, salted eggs, pumpkin jam, and nuts, which creates salty, sweet, and fatty flavors.
Black garlic mooncake
Black garlic mooncake is both soft and smooth, made from pureed healthy black garlic. The filling includes black garlic combined with black beans, mung beans, and mixed or roasted chicken with fish fins.
Although this combination seems a bit wrong, the taste of this cake is very exciting with the salty, slightly sour taste, the lightly sticky garlic combines quite well with the other ingredients of this mooncake.
Each of these Vietnamese mooncakes has its own unique feature and can not suit the taste of everyone or be as popular as traditional ones. However, these will carry a typical and diverse identity in different versions of mooncakes in this country.