Epic Dining: Traditional Mooncakes Get a New Secret Ingredient. (Hint: It’s XO Sauce)

September 20, 2012 in Moments & Epic Dining
The Mid-Autumn Festival, a lunar harvest celebration and one of our most important of the year also known as the Moon Festival, is a tradition deeply imbedded in Chinese and Vietnamese culture. In fact, references to it date back 3,000 years! We celebrate on the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar close to the autumnal equinox (this year Sept. 30), when the moon is at the lowest point in its orbit—making it appear larger than the rest of the year—and of course, magical.
Epic Dining: Traditional Mooncakes Get a New Secret Ingredient. (Hint: It’s XO Sauce)
Typically a sweet delicacy, I’ve created a distinct taste and texture by adding the chili sauce and nuts to the sweet lotus paste.

Alan Chan

Chinese Executive Chef

Line-up of ingredients
Chef Alan Chan flattening the dough into a thin disc shape
Putting filling into the dough
Adding more filling

Chef Chan puts the mooncake into the mould
Mooncake out of the mould
Chef Chan puts the tray of mooncakes into the oven
The boxed final product

This special time of year means mooncakes, matchmaking, incense and dragon dances. In fall in Singapore, traditional mooncakes are all-time favourites, once used in the Yuan Dynasty to transport secret messages. They are also ideal for gift giving. Singaporeans’ palates are very receptive to new and unique flavours and varieties of mooncakes. As Chinese Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore’s Jiang-Nan Chun classic Cantonese restaurant, I know the importance of keeping up with the sophistication of my clients. And believe me, they know their mooncakes!

That’s why for this year I decided to incorporate our popular XO Sauce into our mooncakes. Typically a sweet delicacy, I’ve created a distinct taste and texture by adding the chili sauce and nuts to the sweet lotus paste.

In Hong Kong, XO sauce is a status symbol indicating high quality, prestige and luxury. The name originates from fine XO (“extra-old”) Cognac, a trendy Western liquor in Hong Kong right now. Why don’t you try my special mooncakes this year at your house? Try my mooncake recipe for yourself!  

How other Four Seasons Hotels in China are celebrating:

Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai
The hotel’s Mid-Autumn Festival menu appeals to those looking discover this aspect of Chinese culture and those who want to rediscover their traditions in a new environment: traditional Chinese specialties, including mooncakes, as well as barbeque selections at Café Studio.

Four Seasons Hotel Hangzhou at West Lake
Macaron as a popular confection has a history of a few hundred years in Europe. We are debuting a new limited edition Maca’moon gift box to celebrate this “Dragon Year” Mid-Autumn Festival. It’s six pieces with different flavours: classic, berry, peach and smoky. The box is designed as a traditional Chinese scroll. We also have the hotel’s traditional mooncake gift box, including red bean paste, ham with assorted nuts, white lotus paste with egg yolk, multi-grain, spicy beef and green tea paste. This version is designed as a handbag.

Seasons Macao at Cotai Strip
Our focus will be on Zi Yat Heen, the two- Michelin star Chinese restaurant where Executive Chef Ho Pui Yung is the mastermind behind the homemade mooncakes. This year, Chef Ho and his crew have created two traditional types: White Lotus Seed Paste with Double Egg Yolks and Egg Custard Mooncakes. Chef Ho has been working long in advance to find grade A egg yolks from Vietnam and lotus seeds from Hunan. Using the traditional wooden mould, his team baked carefully, monitoring the temperature and timing to ensure the moisture was just right. Chef Ho also put together an eight-course festive menu for Zi Yat Heen, including specialty dishes such as Baked Stuffed Crab Shell with Onions and Fresh Crab Meat and Crispy Bird’s Nest with Egg White.

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Chef Chan Yan Tak’s signature delicacies are hand-made in the kitchens of Lung King Heen and housed in beautiful boxes created by famed Hong Kong-based graphic designer Alan Chan. The limited-edition mooncakes come in several different flavours, including a version stuffed with cream custard and toasted pine nuts and a new one to this year’s collection: green tea, kumquat paste and pumpkin seeds.– Chinese Executive Chef Alan Chan

A veteran with more than 20 years of Cantonese culinary experience, Alan Chan is Chinese Executive Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore’s award-winning Jiang-Nan Chun Cantonese restaurant. A Hong Kong native, Chef Chan started in the culinary industry at 15, working his way up through Hong Kong and Kowloon restaurants before moving to Singapore in 2001. Over the last decade, the chef honed his skills at a popular Singapore restaurant chain. Having mastered fine dining Cantonese cuisine, Chef Chan he earned the title of Master Chef of Crystal Jade Dining IN at VivoCity in 2011. Married and the father of twin daughters, Chef Chan enjoys running and reading recipe books when not in the kitchen.


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