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Cultural Heritage / Trip Ideas

Seven of China’s best mooncakes

By Minjun Xu

September 7

As the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches don’t forget to take a bite of some mooncakes while watching the moon.

As the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches don’t forget to take a bite of some mooncakes while watching the moon.

Originally a sacrificial offering to the moon during the Tang Dynasty, the mooncake has become an indispensable pastry traditionally eaten at family gatherings in the Mid-Autumn Festival. China has a variety of mooncakes from different regions. Here are just seven standouts we recommend.

1. Mooncake Stuffed with Duck Yolk and Lotus Seed Paste

Mooncake Stuffed with Duck Yolk and Lotus Seed Paste [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Qiong]
Mooncake Stuffed with Duck Yolk and Lotus Seed Paste [Image Credit: photostock.china.com.cn/Wang Qiong]
Duck yolk and lotus seed paste mooncakes are the most typical type of Cantonese-style mooncakes. Made with thick sugar syrup, flour, and oil, the crust is chewy in texture while the lotus seed paste and salted duck yolk makes it crumbly and smooth inside.

Tips: Lian Xiang Lou (莲香楼), a hundred-year old teahouse in Guangzhou offers mooncakes made with fresh lotus transported from Hunan.

2. Mooncake Stuffed with Minced Pork

Mooncake Stuffed with Minced Pork [Image Credit: CFP]
Mooncake Stuffed with Minced Pork [Image Credit: CFP]
Although most mooncakes are sweet, don’t hesitate to try one with minced pork. Similar to puff pastries, the flaky crust of this mooncake consists of several crispy layers that are just a bit oily.

Tips: Popular in southern regions of the Yangtze River, it’s not hard to find pork mooncakes in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou. Be sure to have them straight out of the oven.

3. Beijing-Style Mooncake

Beijing-Style Mooncake [Image Credit:people.com.cn]
Beijing-Style Mooncake [Image Credit:people.com.cn]
With a red circle sealed on the crust, zilaihong is a traditional type of Beijing-style mooncake filled with osmanthus, peach seeds, and dried orange peels.

Tips: Dao Xiang Cun (稻香村), a well-renowned specialty store for native Beijing snacks, is one of the best places to get your sweet zilaihong.

4. Chaoshan-Style Mooncake

Chaoshan-style Mooncake [Image Credit:people.com.cn]
Chaoshan-style Mooncake [Image Credit:people.com.cn]
Originating from Guangdong, Chaoshan-style mooncakes have a heavy, buttery aroma that distinguishes them from typical Cantonese mooncakes. A variety of fillings like red bean and taro paste are used.

Tips: Shantou in Guangdong has some of the best.

5. Mooncake Stuffed with Yunnan Ham

Mooncake Stuffed with Yunnan Ham [Image Credit:people.com.cn]
Mooncake Stuffed with Yunnan Ham [Image Credit:people.com.cn]
Originating from Yunnan, they are filled with lard, honey, sugar, and Xuanwei ham. The flour used to make the crust is made from purple wheat grown near Kunming, Yunnan.

Tips: Since these mooncakes vary from regions to region across Yunnan, you should travel to every single part of the province and try them all.

6. Mooncake Stuffed with Mung Bean Paste

Mooncake Stuffed with Mung Bean Paste [Image Credit:xinhuanet.com]
Mooncake Stuffed with Mung Bean Paste [Image Credit:xinhuanet.com]
For people in Fujian and Taiwan, mung bean mooncakes play a central role during the Mid-Autumn Festival. By rolling together layers of oily dough, the crust gets a rich texture while the slightly sweetened mung bean paste inside is smooth.

Tips: A cup of fresh tung ting tea (冻顶乌龙) goes well with this pastry.

7. Snowy Mooncake

Snowy Mooncake [Image Credit:xinhuanet.com]
Snowy Mooncake [Image Credit:xinhuanet.com]
Unlike other mooncakes, these are preserved in the fridge rather than baked in the oven. They feature un-oiled sticky rice skin and fillings with low fat and sugar content. If you’re on a diet, these snowy mooncakes will be your best companion during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Tips: Taipan Bread & Cakes (大班西饼) in Hong Kong invented the very first snowy mooncake in 1989 and continues to serve them with various innovative fillings popular both among locals and visitors.

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