Better late than never, right? Sorry about the delay; I meant to post this on October 3, the day of the Mid-Autumn Festival.
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also sometimes known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated on the autumnal equinox of the solar calendar, and is the Asian version of a harvest celebration. Traditionally, families celebrate the moon by eating moon cakes – dense, high calorie pastries traditionally filled with a lotus seed paste and a bright yellow yolk from a salted duck egg that symbolizes the moon.
Lotus paste is the most common filling, but nowadays you can usually find red bean paste and taro fillings. I’ve even seen coconut paste and green tea fillings, among others, in recent years. You can also buy moon cakes without yolks, or with one to four yolks inside each piece. This year, I was excited to find two different brands selling low sugar and lower calorie moon cakes being sold at T & T Supermarket. One brand was from Hong Kong, and the other was from T & T’s own bakery.
T & T Supermarket Mini Low Sugar Moon Cakes
The package I picked up contained 6 mini moon cakes without yolks, and made up of three different flavours – two lotus seed moon cakes, two filled with red bean paste, and two taro moon cakes.
cross-section of taro and red bean moon cakes
How did they taste? Well I found them to be dry. Not sure if that was due to them sitting in the box for too long, or if it was because to reduce the amount of sugar and calories they had to cut back on some of the ingredients that usually make moon cakes somewhat moist and even a bit oily. And normally I don’t care about the yolk but for some reason this time I was craving a bit of the salty bite that usually comes with moon cakes.
I think next time I will either try the more expensive brand, or stick with the regular kind of moon cake and just eat less of them.
Laksa, popiah and ais kacang with durian ice cream oh my! Just a warning, this is going to be a long post. Kek Seng Kopitiam (coffee shop) is an institution in Penang. It’s been around for years and years, and frankly the atmosphere is a little dingy (although all the tables, plates, bowls, etc. were clean). The food is a little more old fashioned too; unlike at someplace like New World, the food is pretty much how it was served 30+ years ago (found something online that says Kek Seng opened in 1906). When we were there it was quite busy but we managed to snag a table.
One thing I miss dearly about Malaysia was the easy access to laksa. And by laksa, I mean Penang assam laksa. I talked about curry mee (curry laksa) a little while ago. That one is a coconut-based curry broth. Penang-style assam laksa is a sour, mackerel-based soup that is flavoured with tamarind, lemongrass, galangal, chilli, ginger flower buds, mint, pineapple and onion. You also usually get a soup spoon filled with a thick, sweet prawn paste called Hae Ko, and the whole thing is served with rice noodles (either thick or vermicelli).
The assam laksa at Kek Seng was one of my favourites that I had throughout the trip. A strong fish broth with all those spices and a slight sourness; my mouth is watering as I type this. This first photo is of the hawker stall; those pink things are the ginger flowers. When I’ve shown that photo to other people, the reaction I’ve gotten has been “you mean they actually use flowers and not ginger root?!”
Penang assam laksa hawker stall
A friend asked for ideas about Chinese food her family could order for her mom’s big birthday bash. My suggestions that are under consideration:
- crispy roast pork, possibly a whole pig instead of just chopped pieces (siu yook)
- bbq duck
- from T&T – cold appetizers like pickled daikon radish and carrots, spicy deep fried tofu, jellyfish and jai (Buddha’s Delight)
- spring rolls
- Chicken and pineapple fried rice, fried noodles, and vegetable dishes from Double Greetings
- a cake and red bean buns from Garden Bakery or Hong Kong Bakery
- fresh made deep fried tofu and maybe some dessert tofu from Ying Fat
- almond cookies
Dang it, now I’m hungry.