Joan-style moon cakes have a saying that "it's not greasy to hold, and it's not sweet to eat". Photographed by Yuan Chen, a reporter from Hainan Daily.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is here, and the moon cakes are fragrant. Every place has local special moon cakes, and their production process and filling ratio determine the flavor of moon cakes in each place. Hainan Island's moon cakes, "Joan-style moon cakes", are no exception, and are highly sought after by food lovers both inside and outside the island due to their low sugar, low fat, and crispy crust.
For citizens who grew up in Haikou City, those time-honored mooncakes are probably the most difficult to erase the taste buds. The traditional method and the same taste make Yecheng's moon cakes top the island for a long time. In 2008, after the birth of the local standard for "Joan-style moon cakes", the production operation was standardized. In 2009, the national standard for moon cakes was re-divided into 9 categories, and the Qiong-style moon cakes derived from Haikou were as famous as Guang-style, Jing-style, Su-style, Jin-style, Chao-style, Dian-style, Tai-style and Ha-style.
In 2017, "Joan-style moon cakes" became the fifth batch of intangible cultural heritage items in Hainan Province.
It is understood that Qiong-style moon cakes are the product of the combination of Suzhou-style moon cakes (Suzhou) and Guang-style moon cakes (Guangdong). It not only has the characteristics of "soft" Guang-style moon cake syrup skin, but also has the characteristics of "crisp" of Su-style moon cakes. It has formed a new moon cake genre, and there is a folk saying that "it's not greasy to hold, and it's not sweet to eat".
"After hundreds of years of continuous inheritance and improvement, Qiong-style mooncakes have gradually formed the characteristics of 'crisp', 'loose' and 'soft'. " Fu Zhiren, the inheritor of Qiong-style mooncake making skills and a national registered cooking master, said in an interview with a Hainan Daily reporter. "The types of Qiong-style mooncakes include meringue five kernels, meringue egg yolk lotus paste, meringue egg yolk coconut emperor, meringue bean paste, meringue fruit moon cake, meringue crystal moon cake, etc. The most distinctive feature is the 'crisp skin'."
In the memory of Lin Junchun, the founding chairman of the Hainan Cuisine Association, in the old days, Haikou Bakery had to prepare moon cakes a month or two in advance, and distribute watermelon seeds to surrounding residents to peel the shells and take the kernels on their behalf. As a result, there are small stools in front of the gates of the small streets and alleys as countertops, and a handful of melon seeds are placed on them. People grab the grains one by one with their left hand, and knock them open with a small hammer in their right hand. When the production peak is approaching during the festival, the factory will recruit some neighbors as temporary workers, grab stuffing, wrapping, moulding, and rush to make moon cakes all night long.
So, what are the differences between mooncakes in different parts of Hainan? For this question, Fu Zhiren, the inheritor of the Qiong-style mooncake making technique, said that the appearance is basically the same, but there are some differences in the materials, techniques and taste. According to him, traditional Qiong-style mooncakes generally have a skin-to-filling ratio of 2:3. The moon cake skin is made with low-gluten flour supplemented with pork suet (large oil made from pork ribs), and the filling is mainly lotus seed paste, bean paste and five kernels.
Basically, although mooncake makers in Hainan do not necessarily produce according to the industry standard of "Joan-style mooncakes", they all make according to their respective inheritances and traditions, including material selection, proportioning, pressing and so on.
Hainan mooncakes' adherence to tradition is also reflected in the simple concept of "mooncakes are bought and eaten, not pompous". Therefore, the "time-honored brands" have never pursued luxurious packaging. The bakers don't know how to hype, and they don't maliciously raise the price of moon cakes. They only make Mid-Autumn moon cakes that ordinary people can afford. (Reporter Chen Geng of Hainan Daily)
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