Today is the Mid-Autumn Festival. Wey said to me, "Didn't we just celebrate Mooncake Day?" Mooncake Day is to Malaysians and Singaporeans what Mid-Autumn Festival is to the rest of the Chinese in the world. Chinese families (and Koreans and Japanese, I think) will have a big family dinner and in cities such as Taiwan and Hong Kong especially, families will sit al fresco after dinner to sip tea, eat mooncake and gaze at the moon which is at the brightest this night once a year. In ancient times, people will also compete to recite poems that celebrate the moon. I have written a post about the Mid-Autumn Fest which was linked picked up by Epicurious, and another post here.
My memories of the Mid-Autumn Festival are lots of food, mooncakes, mooncakes shaped in piglets and stuffed into plastic 'cages', pomelo (a huge fruit 5 to 6 times the size of a grapefruit), lanterns, family, fun, games and my mom's Mid-Autumn Fest party for kids in our neighborhood. When my kids were younger, I'd go with them around the taman carrying lighted lanterns just like how I did when I was a kid. Nobody does that anymore, which is a pity.
We had a very happy Mid-Autumn Fest celebration tonight because my daughter came home from Milan today. She had a gruelling flight back because there was a long 12-hour transit in Kuala Lumpur airport, and then the flight coming back to KK was delayed.
Since we had a big Chinese dinner at my MIL's last night (as we do every Saturday), and since Yi had brought back goodies such as parmasan reggiano, gorgonzola (smells like stinky feet!), parma crudo, pancetta, truffle oil, truffle honey, truffle salt, salami, Italian chocolates and a Nespresso machine, I cooked western food instead, which made everyone felt like it was Christmas instead of Mid-Autumn Fest. After dinner, we sat out on the patio and ate mooncakes, carrot cake, baby taro, ling gok, excellent Nespresso coffee (our Tenom coffee tasted like stale diluted coffee compared to Nespresso) and Chinese tea. With a slight breeze after a light rain, the air was cool and it was a lovely evening with my mom, my parents-in-laws, my younger BIL, Hub's cousin Ben and wife Janet, and my oldest and youngest kids. Only three things were missing. Lanterns ( I forgot to buy/make), the moon (hidden behind heavy clouds) and my middle child Ming (studying in Melbourne).
Janet brought a delicious dish of steamed fish and ham slices in a butter and milk sauce. I will make that dish one day and post the recipe.
Yi made two salads. This lovely salad was mixed greens with fried pancetta and freshly shaved parmesan.
Parma ham, honey dew, mixed greens and toasted almonds (crispy thin slices of baguette added later)--yum!
Caramelised beets with balsamic glaze.
Roasted leg of NZ lamb--very tender and succulent. Wey made yummy mashed potatoes with truffle oil to go with the lamb.
Fillet of salmon with a crust made of bread crumbs, potato chips from the bag (yes), fresh dill from our garden and Dijon mustard was surprisingly good. The recipe was from an old copy of Cook's Illustrated.
Autumn is when baby taros are abundant. The black moustache-like things are nuts called ling gok, which are only available this time of the year. Ling gok are from China, and they grow in ponds. When opened with a nut cracker, the white meat inside is floury and slightly sweet with no distinct flavor. The ling gok reminds me of my father, who always boiled them to eat when they come into season in Autumn. If he can't finish the nuts, he'd dig out the meat and make hanging decorations with them. I still have Dad's car charm made of ling gok. It must be over 17 years old.
Mooncakes tins used to have paintings of pretty Chinese girls in cheong sam. I wish I kept some of the tins; they were so pretty. After the mooncakes are eaten, the tins are recycled into sewing boxes or small gadget containers. This box of mooncake is from Singapore, given by our friend L. It is so pretty. I am keeping it.