9/16/2015 update: About a year later, I’m so excited to share this lesser-known mooncake over at Food52, so went back and not only updated the photos but also improved the recipe. I made my old recipe and realized it needed work. Without constant evolution and critique, no process will improve. I went back to the beginning and updated mostly the dough, using a more traditional method of a lard + water dough.
Happy 中秋节 (Mid-Autumn Festival)!!! This year (2014), it falls on today, September 8th. I have something special to share with you all – the pork mooncake. A savory mooncake. Before you wave me away and claim that mooncakes are sweet and filled with yolk, lotus paste, and red bean filling, I would like to say that this is a traditional mooncake eaten at Mid-Autumn Festival in the JiangSu region (Shanghai, Suzhou area). In fact, some refer to this as 苏式鲜肉月饼, “Suzhou style mooncake”. The mooncake that is most well known and sold in mountains of boxes in Chinese supermarkets are Cantonese style mooncakes. In fact, Two Red Bowls has a great recipe for this.
Personally, I prefer the pork mooncake. The Cantonese style one is a little bit too greasy for me, although occasionally I do feel in the mood for the yolk filled ones. Of course by that time it’s not Mid-Autumn Festival anymore, and I can’t find it anywhere. The pork mooncake has a super flaky dough surrounding a savory, aromatic pork filling. When I say flaky, I mean FLAKY. Literally, paper thin pieces of dough will flake off at the slightest touch. Biting into a mooncake is like inhaling thin pieces of pastry. It’s a good feeling, trust me.
We celebrated it yesterday, with friends and good food. To commemorate mid autumn festival, I made all Asian dishes: the meat mooncakes, scallion pancake, pork belly buns, spicy yakiudon, and green beans.
Water Dough: mix all the ingredients together and knead until very smooth. Add water or flour as needed. Dough should be soft with no lumps. Divide into 12 balls. Set on table covered in cling wrap and rest for 30 minutes.
Lard Dough: mix all together until it forms a dough. Divide into 12 balls. Cover in cling wrap and set aside.
The WATER dough is on the left, and the lard dough is on the right. The lard dough will be much more “dry”, but still oily. It’ll almost flake apart but will hold together. It has a very high fat content (160g flour : 100g lard).
Meat: Combine all ingredients. Divide into 12 balls. Cover lightly with cling wrap and let rest in the fridge. This allows the meat balls to firm up a bit, allowing for easier wrapping later.
Using palm, press water dough into a round circle.
Add a ball of lard dough right into the center. Bring up the sides of the water dough and press flat.
Roll mixed dough into a long, thin oval and roll into a log, width-wise. Repeat with the remaining 11 balls, making sure to keep the finished logs under cling wrap to prevent drying out.
Let mixed dough logs rest for 20 minutes.
Take one log and press your finger down the middle so that the two edges bends upward.Flatten with your palm – you will see spirals along the surface.
Use rolling pin to roll into a thin circle. Place a stiff meat ball inside and bring the sides up. Pleat and scrunch edges together, making sure to press tightly to seal. Use scissors to cut off any excess dough. Flip over and set aside, again under loose cling wrap to prevent drying out.
Heat up a pan over low heat with no oil. Place mooncakes, smooths side up, on the pan.
One bottom is nicely browned, flip and continue to fry. The outer layer will start to split, and once both sides are golden browned, remove from pan and serve hot.
Another option is to bake the mooncakes: preheat oven to 375F. Brush mooncakes with egg wash (egg + splash of water), and bake for 25-30 minutes.
RECIPE: 鲜肉月饼 – 中秋节 Pork Mooncake for Mid-Autumn Festival
Also on Food52
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 + 1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoon sugar
1/3-1/2 cup cold water
1 egg, beaten
250g lean ground pork
2 tbsp finely chopped scallion (green onion)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1/4 tsp dashi powder
1.5 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 dash white pepper
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp shaoxing wine
Egg Wash if baking
1 egg, whisked
1| Combine meat ingredients and shape into 12 balls. Cover lightly with cling wrap and place in the fridge to firm up.
2| For the water dough, mix all of the ingredients together and knead until very smooth. Add water or flour as needed. The dough should be soft with no lumps. Divide into 12 balls. Set on table, cover with cling wrap, and let rest for 30 minutes. For the lard dough, mix all of the ingredients together until they form a dough. Divide into 12 balls. Cover in cling wrap and set aside. The lard dough will be much more dry, yet still oily. It’ll almost flake apart but it should hold together.
3| Roll the hybrid ball of dough into a long, thin oval. Then roll it into a log, widthwise.
4| Repeat with the remaining 11 balls of dough, making sure to keep the finished logs under cling wrap to prevent drying out. Let the logs rest for 20 minutes.
5| Take one log and press your finger down the middle so that the two edges bends upward. Now flatten this semicircle with your palm so that you see two spirals—the two flattened ends of the dough logs—along the surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a thin circle.
6| Place one of the firm balls of meat inside the circle and bring the sides of dough up.
7| Pleat and scrunch the edges of the dough together, making sure to press tightly to seal. Use scissors to cut off any excess dough. Flip the ball over and set it aside, covering it loosely with cling wrap to prevent drying out. Repeat with all of the logs of the dough and balls of meat.
8| Heat a dry pan over low heat. Place the mooncake, their smooth sides up, in the pan. Once the bottoms are nicely browned, flip and continue to fry. The outer layer will start to split. Once both sides are golden brown, remove the mooncakes from the pan and serve hot.
9| You can also bake the mooncakes: Preheat oven to 375° F, brush the mooncakes with an egg wash made from 1 egg beaten with a splash of water, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.