It made me wonder if the ancient mooncake used to contain secret messages were of this shape. Conveniently perceived as a huge wife’s biscuit, or any typical Chinese pastry for that matter, it’s the perfect camouflage.
My first taste of the preserved vegetable mooncake must have dated back to the primary school days when the snow skin version made its debut. I was too captivated by the coldness and modernity of it and hence, never really took the time to appreciate this Teochew delicacy. If this was anything average, its existence would have perished years before we were introduced to the champagne truffle design. I'm not sure if it's still as well-received as it was decades ago but it did occur to me that many are still unacquainted with this classic.
Generally, we see preserved vegetable as nothing more than a source of salt and perhaps some crunch to dishes like braised pork, steamed fish or even as condiment to a bowl of plain Teochew porridge. Surprisingly, the chewy paste that consisted mainly of it was mostly sweet and just faintly salted. I’m guessing that they’d done some washing with the vegetable or had customized a certain preservation process for this need. The burst of flavours within a bite is blissful. All thanks to the black sesame, candied winter melon bits and tangerine peel. There’s another pulling factor for me as well - lard, the traditional butter that makes it significantly more aromatic. We don’t get much lard-based Chinese desserts these days and I believe availability has reduced to mostly wet markets. In fact, that’s where momma got the Teochew mooncakes.
Rather interesting to note that despite having tasted this for many years, I’ve always thought that it was homemade and sold solely in the wet market in Jinjang Selatan. Well, the oily packaging bearing the restaurant's name is usually disposed by momma before I can lay my hands on the mooncake. With the recent discovery of its origin, I think it’s time to pay this 90+ years old Teochew restaurant in Setapak a visit.
There’s a sense of nostalgia in this whole experience, especially when Setapak is very close to the district where I grew up in. And may I just say that there are some pretty solid restaurants there.
Happy Mid-Autumn Festival, everyone! I’ve always thought that the term Mooncake Festival is somehow more appropriate, given our tropical climate. I mean, here where got autumn one?
Setapak Teochew Restaurant (文良港潮州餐室饼家)
283 & 285, Jalan Pahang
53000 Kuala Lumpur.
Tel : (+603) 4023 8706