The Moon Festival, or Md-Autumn Festival, is a harvest festival celebrated in many Asian countries, including Vietnam. Under the influence of China, the Moon Festival in Vietnam is held on the 15th day of the 8th month according to the lunar calendar (meaning Wednesday, October 4th this year according to the Gregorian calendar). The Vietnamese Moon Festival has changed quite a lot, taking a more modern approach rather than the traditional approach; however, the traditional food in Moon Festival is still being well preserved, of course, with a bit of modern twist to it. Enjoy Moon festival with Indochina tours and Vietnam
A variety of traditional mooncakes in Moon Festival
In Vietnamese, mooncakes are called “bánh trung thu” (with “bánh” means cakes, “trung” means mid, and “thu” means Autumn – quite a literal translation). A typical mooncake, under the influence of China, is a round pastry filled with fillings. A typical mooncake would be your palm size, with the shape perfectly formed using a mold.
In Vietnam, in additional to the type similar to that of Chinese called baked mooncakes (“bánh nướng”), sticky rice mooncakes (“bánh dẻo”) are also available. In fact, if you buy Vietnamese traditional mooncakes contained in a box, half will also be baked mooncakes, with the other half being sticky rice mooncakes. Other foods that are usually eaten together with mooncakes during Moon Festival are bananas, persimmons, green rice (“cốm”), watermelon, and grapefruit. A great Moon Festival’s food platter would have a dog made from grapefruit sections and pieces.
Traditionally, the fillings of baked mooncakes include the following ingredients: dried candied fruits, roasted melon seeds, lime leaves, sugar, lard, lotus seeds, Chinese sausages, sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, etc. Baked mooncakes have a quite crusty outer layer (not dried!) with a roasted-like aroma. Due to its ingredients, the overall taste of baked mooncakes is sweet.
Meanwhile, the fillings made for sticky rice mooncakes are less complicated. However, while the taste of baked mooncake’s crust is just a mild sweetness, a true Vietnamese sticky rice mooncakes would be (quite overly) sweet inside and out (there is a reason why these are called cakes anyway.) The ingredients for fillings are mung bean paste and/or lotus seed paste, with or without salted egg yolks.
Besides the traditional square shapes, animal shaped baked and sticky rice mooncakes are also very popular, especially among the children. The most seen shapes are pigs (with their eyes made from black beans) and fish.
A modern twist towards the traditional food in Moon Festival
A modern twist applied to both types of Vietnamese mooncakes, and to both its shapes and fillings.
Due to its high-caloric nature, people like to make new fillings with less sugar, fat, and healthier ingredients. Crusts and fillings can be made (vegan) using matcha powder, cocoa powder, taro, pineapple, or even fruit jam. Instead of the sweet fillings, some people prefer savory ones, containing roasted chicken, jambon, Chinese sausages, and salted egg yolks. Modern mooncakes can vary in shapes and sizes.
With Japanese culture being widespread among the Vietnamese youth, mocha-like mooncakes have also been gaining its reputation.
In recent years, traditional mooncakes are slowly gaining back their popularity among Vietnamese people in general. Even though they are not that healthy for you, they are part of the Vietnamese traditions that should not be forgotten in any way. Eating a mooncake or two won’t put serious harm on your health, since we only celebrate Moon Festival once a year. If you are in Vietnam during this special occasion, don’t forget to give yourself this traditional food treat!
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