Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Foochow Moon Cake Festival in Sibu

this is a picture of the Baby Rats which we always like. Though humble in origin it has stood the test of time and remain popular with the Foochows for more than a hundred years in Sibu. This is the kind of goodies grandparents of olden days would buy because for a very small sum, a packet of these little rats would go a long long way and every child would have a palmful of munchies to bite and enjoy. Good thinking!!

This is the Chin Su Koh (Jing Su Gao) made by Wong Siong Ming Biscuit Manufacturer of Miri. These square biscuits are just like the peanut cookies we normally get during Chinese new Year.

Moon Festival occurs on the full moon day or 15th day of 8th month of the Lunar Calendar.

On this day almost all the Chinese all over the world will celebrate their mid autumn festival to remember the autumn harvest and to commemorate the overthrow of the Mongol Regime in China.

To celebrate this festival most Chinese would have a dinner at home, go to the courtyard or streets to give a toast to the moon, or simply just gaze at the beautiful moon and reflect on their family,community and personal relationships.

Some clans might even celebrate in a big way by having dragon dances and letting off fire crackers.

Many politicians would also use this opportunity to garner more popularity.

Streets with Chinese businesses are already selling moon cakes of different origins, prices and styles. The moon cakes of present days come in very expensive gift boxes. Marketing styles have come a long long way from days of yesteryears. It is nostalgic to think of the older versions of mooncakes and other related goodies of Sibu days.

My tastes have not changed over the years. And I will still buy a packet or two of Chin Su Koh (Very Crispy Biscuit) and Loh Chu Yan (Baby Rats) to much with friends when they come to visit. We will have our Chinese tea to go with these goodies. The other types of commercial mooncakes are not too popular with me. Although I would still consider eating a slice or two of the very traditional filling of red bean paste or the assorted nuts.

I am glad that the manufacturers have all become health conscious and are using less lard, less sugar and less salt even.

the Chin Su Koh is the square, crispy and lardy biscuits which are actually available throughout the year in Sibu. They are interestingly crispy and delicious. The Baby Rats are nice and crunchy. In fact I feel that these two Foochow goodies should be made more popular and promoted. The Chin Su Koh can be of the same quality as the butter cookies of Denmark. And the Baby Rats are as good as any of the potato crisps of Europe.

Marketing these two traditional items depend on political will as well as sensational branding. I am sure if Michael Phelps gets to like our Chin Su Koh and Baby Rats we might make a kill there. If only Li Ning is Foochow, he could have brought these two items right across the Birds' Nest. I am just being too creative here. (Smile) I am just thinking along this line because I have been watching a lot of the Olympics. Thanks to Astro, I have the best seat to the Olympics - right in my TV room.

I would like to send Lee Chong Wei some of these lovely Chin Su Koh and Baby Rats and let him know that some people have cheered him all the way. He will always be our Olympic hero because he represented Malaysia and the journey had been rather lonely. He deserves more write-ups and cheers than any other athletes in the last four years.

For years my family never did celebrate the Moon Cake festival. We were not into lantern carrying and making a hoo ha about the occasion.

None of us ever broke down because we did not have a new dress or a new shirt. The occasion passed by and we were none the worse.

But in appreciation of our mother's hardwork and sacrifices we would offer her some nice moon cakes and cheer her up. Older folks do appreciate a visit or a small gift. So all of us assume that the festival is for our elders. And a gathering is really to make the older folks happy.

So I hope all of you readers will do something for your elders this coming mooncake festival.

And for a change all the bosses should reward their employees with gifts of mooncakes for helping them make all those fortunes. If the ordinary folks of China did not rise up against the cruel rulers, China would not have a new dynasty. And fortunes could not have been made either.


Perhaps you might like to try this recipe from Yan Can Cook.

Mid-Autumn Moon Cake Recipes

By Yan Can Cook, Inc

Makes 2 dozen
1 can (17-1/2 ounces) lotus seed paste
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2-cup non-fat dried milk powder
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar 1/2 cup solid shortening, melted and cooled
1 egg yolk , lightly beaten

1. Mix lotus seed paste and walnuts together in a bowl; set aside.

2. Sift flour, milk powder, baking powder, and salt together into a bowl. In large bowl of electric mixer, beat eggs on medium speed until light and lemon colored. Add sugar; beat for 10 minutes or until mixture falls in a thick ribbon. Add melted shortening; mix lightly. With a spatula, fold in flour mixture. Turn dough out on a lightly floured board; knead for 1 minute or until smooth and satiny. Divide dough in half; roll each half into a log. Cut each log into 12 equal pieces.

3. To shape each moon cake, roll a piece of dough into a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured board to make a 4-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Place 1 tablespoon of lotus seed paste mixture in center of dough circle. Fold in sides of dough to completely enclose filling; press edges to seal. Lightly flour inside of moon cake press with 2-1/2 inch diameter cups. Place moon cake, seam side up, in mold; flatten dough to conform to shape of mold. Bang one end of mold lightly on work surface to dislodge moon cake. Place cake on ungreased baking sheet. Repeat to shape remaining cakes. Brush tops with egg yolk.

4. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to a rack and let cool.

Copyright Yan Can Cook, Inc. 1991.


2 memories:

Bengbeng said...

i have been buying n eating it without realizing its name or any of its background. thanks. u know such a lot of history..ref masland bell, Lau Kah Tii etc.

I Am Sarawakiana said...

thanks for dropping by. I have been around for a long time and what is common knowledge to me has become history to a lot of younger people!!

I like history because it is a subject which reminds us of our human civilization and how we should live our lives. Religious practice is also a part of man's history.


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