I stopped by the Chinese grocery store on Saturday.  While I was on my way out, I suddenly saw a bunch of tin boxes near the cookies aisle.  I was like OMG… MOONCAKES!  I was so surprised to find the brand that I like.  I’m super picky about mooncakes.  I only like a very traditional Hong Kong brand called “Wing Wah”.  I couldn’t help and bought a box.  I love mooncakes since I was a kid.  It’s a kind of food that I got to enjoy only once a year. You won’t find mooncakes any other time of the year.  I got home and looked up the Chinese Lunar calendar and found out the actual date for the Chinese Mid Autumn Festival (aka the Moon Festival) is next Wed, September 22 of the Western calendar.  The Moon Festival is on August 15 of the Chinese Lunar calendar. 

Mooncakes are must-haves.  I don’t remember exactly why it’s a tradition to have mooncakes on the Moon Festival.  A full moon somehow symbolizes completeness or reunion.  There was a Chinese folk story about two lovers that got separated, and they could only meet each other on the day of the Moon Festival.  Romantic and yet sad.  Anyway, mooncakes are very dense with sweet lotus seed paste, and each has a preserved duck egg yolk in it.  The egg yolk looks like a moon.  It could be a weird combination if you are trying it out for the first time.  The lotus seed paste is very sweet, and the preserved duck egg yolk has a slight savory taste.  There are a variety of mooncakes available these days.  Some of them have one yolk, two yolks, or no yolk.  Some of them are made with regular lotus seed paste, some better ones are made with white lotus seed paste.  My favorite is Wing Wah’s white lotus seed paste with one yolk.  Supreme!  One time my Beijing coworkers gave me a no-brand mooncake.  I appreciated the gesture, but the mooncake was yucky, a total waste of calories.  Mooncakes are fattening.  Even though I’m on diet now, I would make an exception for mooncakes since they are soooo good.  The only thing is that I would only consume yummy calories.  I don’t sacrifice anything other than Wing Wah.  BTW, I forgot to mention that mooncakes are very expensive.  A box of good mooncakes is like $40 after tax, like $10 per mooncake.  But it all worth it cos it’s so good.

Wing Wah mooncakes
Each box has 4 mooncakes
Pretty mooncake
Mooncake has a preserved duck egg yolk in it
YUMMY, YUMMY mooncake!

Happy Friday.  That’s what we were supposed to say. Instead, I have another hectic Friday with tons of meetings.  I got 30 minutes to fix my lunch. De javu again.  I opened my fridge and I saw the Zongzi that I bought last week from a Chinese grocery store.  This is it, my lunch of the day.  If you have never seen one before, they look kind of mysterious.  You may guess it is some mystery food wrapped in some leaves and made in a triangular shape.  Haha, true. But it’s not as bad as hot dog that we have absolute no clue what mystery meat that is made of.  Zongzi is sweet glutinous rice (sticky rice), shiitake mushrooms, dried shrimps, peanuts, salty egg yolk, chestnut, chicken meat/pork all wrapped with some leaves. I forogt if these are banana leaves or Lotus flower leaves. Anyway, the leaves give the rice mixture a very nice aroma.  I have made this from scratch before. It was a lot of fun and super yummy.  They are supposed to be a seasonal food during the Dragon Boat Festival in fall.  These days, you can get Zongzi from the refridgerated section of any Chinese grocery store.  My mom’s version is the best.  One time she was being creative, and she wrapped expensive stuff like shark fins, dried scallops as fillings.  It was super delicious.  Well, that only happened once in my life. She never made that again. 

If I have time to make it from scratch, I’ll show you guys later.  For now, I cheated with the ready-made version.  I usually put them in a big pot of water and just boil it for 10 mins.  But today, I use the microwave instead.  Just 5 mins and my lunch was ready 😀

Funky looking Zongzi
Funky looking Zongzi
Zongzi Unwrapped
Zongzi Unwrapped
Zongzi, yummy :)
Zongzi, yummy 🙂

Microwave version:

  1. Put a Zongzi in a bowl.  Do not unwrap it.  Add about half a cup of water to the bowl.
  2. Wet a piece of paper towel and put it on top of the zongzi so that it covers the bowl. The water and the wet towel will give some steam when we heat the zongzi in the microwave.
  3. Put the whole thing in the microwave.  Use max power and heat it up for 3 minutes.  Take it out and disgard the water.
  4. Unwrap the zongzi.  Disgard the leaves.  Put the zongzi back in the bowl.  Cut it open to check if it is warm/hot enough.  If not, wet the towel and cover zongzi, and put it back in the microwave for another m inute.
  5. Add a few drops of soy sauce for flavor.

Stove Top version:

  1. Do not unwrap the zongzi.  Put the zongzi in a big pot of water.   Make sure the water covers the zongzi.
  2. Use high heat and cook it for 10 minutes in the water.
  3. Unwrap the zongzi. Add a few drops of soy sauce for taste.