Flaky Mooncakes - 酥皮鹹蛋黃豆沙月餅
Remember last time when I posted an egg bread because of too many eggs? I turned some of those into salted eggs to be used in some dishes. A month has passed and it's time to use them, and what is a better way than to use them in mooncakes! I didn't bother to boil some to be eaten as is because boiled ones are readily available; I made my own because there are no "raw" salted eggs available in the market and those are what I need for dishes I'm planning to make. This style of mooncake is not as popular as the Cantonese one but it is equally delicious. I made this as a preparation for my Cantonese mooncake not because it's easier to make but I want to taste the combination of my salted eggs and homemade bean paste before doing something I've never done before. This requires a totally different skill set than Cantonese ones and I have experience with these before so I made this first as a warm-up.
In our country, these are called Hopia (好餅) meaning good cake/pastry taken from Hokkien dialect introduced by Chinese immigrants from Fujian; they are often smaller, available year round in every bakery and are not considered mooncakes because the term "mooncakes" only refers to Cantonese ones (only obtainable in Chinatown) but in fact they are "mooncakes" in other parts of China. Hopia with salted egg yolks are released as "Hopia Supreme" by a famous Chinese bakery here, you can see the reputation salted eggs have for making something really special; because they are really expensive.These are made with Chinese spiral pastry similar to Suzhou and Teochew style mooncakes. Made with alternating layers of oil and water dough, it has lots of flaky layers earning them the moniker "Thousand Layer Mooncakes" in some areas. Although similar to those styles of mooncakes mentioned, hopia is made differently and I made mine differently too that's why they (other hopia and mine) look different compared to those. I used lard this time and the flavor was elevated several notches higher! Lard has a unique flavor that no shortening can match! I also used it my bean paste, my bean paste improved a lot from the last batch, not just the flavor but the texture too!
I left some plain in case the combination of red bean paste and salted egg yolks didn't work. They love it with salted eggs, and asked why hadn't I made all with salted eggs. Because of this I'm so excited for my Cantonese mooncakes, they will be even better because we consider them "special" here. I made these special hopia/mooncake larger than normal, molded them in my mini llaneras that's why they have this nice oval shape (sort of my signature) and grilled them on a dry pan for that lovely golden brown on both sides. I think they are really lovely especially because I did not measure any of the ingredients. I think I should have used more filling so they are thicker/taller and prettier!
When I say flaky, I mean really flaky! The spiral technique is really incredible! It is the hallmark of a good hopia; messy plate, messy face, and a messy lap all from the crust!
I just don't want to open this post with a sad news but this reminds me of it. A couple of weeks ago, we are having problems on how to store eggs because their laying has become out of control; now there are no more eggs to be found and almost no more chickens to be heard. Our entire flock was almost swept by a recurrence of a pestilence that did the same two years ago. It was sad to see vigorous and healthy chickens become suddenly lethargic and die in just days. Remember this post last year when I said the new generation of our chickens is steadily growing? All of them are gone now, 4-6 died each day that my dad just made a mass grave for them. In a span of a week and a half, no more was left of the new generation.
Even this cute tailless one was included. He's special because from all the years of chicken raising, he was the first and only naturally tailless one. Look at how much he has grown in less than a year? We simply call him Kurong because that's how these rare tailless ones are called.
Fortunately the plague has stopped and and left a few survivors just like before. Interestingly, they are the original survivors from the former plague. We have a theory that they carry a gene that is naturally immune from the plague. Aren't they like in "infection" movies where the naturally immune are the few survivors that run away and fight the infected while finding a cure for the infection and formulating a plan for repopulation?! :P I'll stop here. I have a vivid imagination and it's my most feared movie genre!
Ladies and gentlemen, the majestic rooster that made it all possible before and hopefully will make it again this time. He was quarantined for a while to ensure his survival because he is the only uninfected rooster in the flock. He was the father of the entire second generation of the bantams and he outlived all of his children. He is left with four of his original hens and hopefully they will have chicks to raise a new (third) generation of chickens the second time around.
His one eye is even blind! That's how resilient he is!
Okay, back to good food again and salted eggs. I saved the best shot for last! Enjoy!
With the salted eggs I have, I also made Cantonese rice dumplings (Joong). Dried bamboo leaves are only available in Chinatown which is three hours away form where I live and we only go there once or twice a year; I used banana leaves because it's abundant in our backyard. This is not as authentic because of the different leaf used but this a variant and my take on the Cantonese style.
With all the banana leaves, dad made a nostalgic treat for him. Rice wrapped in banana leaves. He said that's what he brings to school back in the days prepared by my grandmother. Warm rice is wrapped in banana leaves sprinkled with a little salt; when opened, the aroma of banana leaf that perfumed the rice perfumes the air. He paired it with stuffed steamed milk fish in guess what.... of course, banana leaf!
Glutinous rice, peeled split mung beans, salted pork and salted egg yolks. No peeled split mung beans available here so I peeled and split them myself; soak them in water overnight then rub vigorously in batches to peel and split them. I used pork shoulder (it should be pork belly but there is no fine belly during that day in the market) and cured it in salt for 4 days. Cantonese Joong does not stir-fry its rice and there is no soy sauce so the dumpling is pearly white and soft.
Wrapping in banana leaf is difficult and needs a different technique than using bamboo leaves and this is just my "REAL" first try at wrapping rice dumplings. Tying is "anything goes until sealed" and is even more difficult than the wrapping. They are then boiled for 4 hours,
The result, one opened and spilled its contents in the boiling water so I ended up with only 3 dumpling in the end.
The rice was properly seasoned and soft, the mung beans are slightly sweet, the salted egg yolk is rich with the right saltiness but the pork is slightly saltier than preferred; I should have soaked it longer.
I grew up eating the Hokkien variety of rice dumplings so this one is good but different. Dad didn't like it very much unlike the mooncakes. I like this one especially the yolk, in fact I can eat it without the pork.
I hope you've enjoyed this as much as I do! Thank you very much! Job
I already baked my Cantonese mooncakes and they are in their resting stage now. Let's see what will happen in my next post. Stay tuned!
To be continued...