• Jim’s Malaysia continues its mooncake-making tradition this year. (Raymund Kwong @ RK&Co. Design)
These lunar calendar treats are only available once a year – so grab these mooncakes before they're gone.
By
Aimee Chanthadavong

10 Sep 2019 - 12:00 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2019 - 11:58 AM

For the last three years, Jim Yong, who is fondly known as Uncle Jim and is the owner of the Jim’s Malaysia eateries, has been hand-making various versions of the mooncake to mark the lunar calendar Mid-Autumn Festival – and this year is no different.

He pounds, kneads, and rolls out the pastry for four different kinds of mooncakes. There’s a Teochew-style multi-layered spiral pastry that’s similar to a croissant; a crumby hybrid butter cookie; a Hong Kong-style snowy mooncake made from no-bake, glutinous mochi; and baked buttery egg custard mooncake.

Each mooncake is then filled with a paste. For Yong, it’s an opportunity for him to experiment with different flavours, such as black sesame egg custard, chestnut lotus seed, pandan lotus seed, and durian lotus seed. He also creates more traditional fillings such as lotus seed and salted egg yolk and red bean.

“The hardest part of the process is getting the balance of the ingredients right,” says Yong, who was a pastry chef in Malaysia before moving to Australia 20 years ago.

“Just like the Western way of making pastry, it may look simple but it involves a lot of steps, including making sure the mixture is well mixed, getting the temperature right, and making sure the texture is not too sticky.”

Each mooncake is then embossed with the baker’s brand – in Yong’s case, it’s JM for Jim’s Malaysia – before being packaged in ornate gift boxes.

The mooncake explained

The Mid-Autumn Festival, which often falls in mid-September, is the second-largest celebration on the lunar calendar after the Lunar New Year.

The occasion is marked by mooncakes, a sweet dessert that is quintessential to the celebration, and often sliced in wedges to be shared alongside cups of tea.

“Just like the Western way of making pastry, it may look simple but it involves a lot of steps, including making sure the mixture is well mixed, getting the temperature right, and making sure the texture is  not too sticky.”

Jim’s Malaysia brand manager Raymund Kwong tells SBS the mooncake symbolises the gathering of family and friends during the festival, and is a common gift to give to loved ones.

“The Mid-Autumn Festival is a time where family and friends gather around to celebrate each other,” he says.

“The round shape of the mooncake reflects the initial reason why Uncle Jim started making mooncakes. He wanted to remind and show family and friends that he cared about them.”

The legend behind the mooncake

Kwong says stories about where the mooncake originated from dates back to over 3000 years ago.

“Legend has it that there was an emperor who forced his doctor to create an elixir of immortality. His wife at the time happened to have known about this and knowing that the king was a cruel one, she decided to steal elixir and take it herself," he says.

“After she took the elixir, she flew to the moon so the king wouldn’t be able to get to her. When everyone found out about her sacrifice and her unconditional love for them, they decided to celebrate her by making mooncakes. That’s why mooncakes are traditionally round in shape.”

Stop by Jim’s Malaysia for a taste of fresh mooncakes before 13 September.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Twitter @achanthadavong and Instagram @aimeech33.

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