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Recipes Can Meet Dietary Needs: Moon Cakes

by Susan Braverman

Food as Herbs, Health, and Medicine

Fall Volume: 1995 Issue: 2(3) page(s): 9 and 22

The Chinese Moon Festival suggests more recipes for this column. Moon Cakes come in a variety of fillings and pastry from sweet to salty.

The recipe for these Moon Cakes are adapted from Chinese Cooking by Nim Chee Lee (NY: Portland House, 1987), the recipes for the moon cake doughs adapted from several sources. In addition, be advised that the recipes have been modified in a variety of ways in order to reduce both the fat and sodium content, yet retain the integrity of the Moon Cakes we love.

Nutrient analysis has been omitted because people make various sizes of moon cakes, mix and match fillings, etc. In addition, holiday foods are eaten in small quantities and infrequently, and you should enjoy them, but don't overindulge!
Moon Cakes
Moon Cakes need the following:
One recipe of the water-dough and one recipe of the oil-dough wrapping
a double-recipe of oiled dough filling
one recipe of either the sweet or the salty filling

Water-dough Wrapping
1 and 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/4 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup water
2 Tablespoon melted shortening
1 Tablespoon sugar, optional
1. Sift the two types of flour together into a bowl
2. Add the sugar and mix the ingredients together.
3. Knead the dough thoroughly until smooth. Let stand for 20 minutes, then knead again.
Note: You can color and flavor the pastry (wrapping) by adding curry powder to it. To do so, replace the one half tablespoon of the flour mixture with up to two tablespoons of curry powder.
Oil-dough Wrapping
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 and 3/4 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup melted shortening
1 teaspoon sugar, optional
1. Sift the two types of flour together. Stir in the shortening and sugar.
2. Mix together thoroughly.
3. Knead the dough thoroughly and then let it stand for 20 minutes.
4. Knead again before use.
Note 1: Sugar is added to the dough to give it a crisper, browner finish. If you are going to cut the dough into shapes, omit the sugar.

To complete the recipe: combine one or both wrappings and the filling.
1. Roll out either wrapping dough to a large piece about one-quarter inch thick. Preferred, is to use them both and put the Oiled Dough as a second layer on top of the Water Wrapping, and fold the bottom third up over the dough and the top third down. Then press the ends with the rolling pin to seal and roll out again. Repeat the folding processes and roll out the dough again.
2. Using your hands, roll the dough into a long sausage shape and cut into twenty to thirty pieces.
3. Roll these out to thin rounds.
4. Fill each round with one teaspoon of the desired filling and seal the dough around the filling.
5. Heat two cups oil in a deep fat fryer and deep-fry the cakes until they are golden brown. Drain them on paper towels. Cool slightly, then serve.
Note 2: To have the least amount of fat absorbed, use fresh oil, fry a few at a time, and keep the temperature at about 325 degrees F. If you make them in advance and refrigerate them, allow them to come to room temperature (about one hour) before frying.

The Salty Fillling:
1 cup diced roast pork
3 Tablespoons green onions, cut in half-inch lengths
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
1. Combine all ingredients
2. Mix them well and use one to two tablespoons as an appropriate amount per moon cake. If using freshly roasted meat, allow filling to cool to room temperature or refrigerate before using.
The Sweet Filling:
10 ounces adzuki beans
8 cups water
4 Tablespoons oil
2/3 cup brown sugar
1. Add water to beans and bring to a boil. Simmer for two hours, or until tender.
2. Mash beans and then put them through a sieve.
3. Heat pan, add the oil and saute bean mash half minute to two minutes.
4. Add sugar and saute another minute, stirring constantly. Cool or refrigerate before using.

Note 3: To modify the Moon Cake recipes:
1. Bake the cakes instead of deep frying them.
2. Reduce the amount of pork in the filling by two ounces and add about one ounce of finely crushed dry cereal such as Cheerios.
3. In the salty filling, use a low sodium soy sauce.

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