I could really get addicted to these. They’re like little sweet potato pies with a slightly salty, eggy reward in the center. I’ve come to the conclusion that mooncakes are best when they aren’t too sweet. Canned adzuki bean paste tends to be extremely sweet, so I urge you to try making your own. You’ll be far more satisfied with the taste of your cakes. Also, since the key to a successful mooncake is getting your component textures right, you’ll have far more control.
Several readers wrote in over the weekend to ask for a picture of some of the specialty equipment and/or ingredients. I understand that completely since Asian markets can be bewildering places to those of us who aren’t accustomed to shopping in them regularly. Here’s the stuff you’ll need. Clockwise from the upper left we have sweet bean paste in a can which you can find in the canned vegetable aisle (UPDATE: Homemade is far superior and not difficult, I recommend that instead!). Next we have lye water (alkaline water) which is typically kept in the sauce section near the soy sauce. Salted egg yolks are of course what’s next, they’re also in the refrigerated section near, you guessed it, the eggs.
You’ll need access to a decent-sized Asian market in order to do these…apologies to readers in more rural areas. Of course if you’re extra motivated you can make your own sweet bean paste out of adzuki beans and pickle your own eggs (it takes about three weeks but is very worthwhile I hear…makes even better mooncakes). Recipes are out there on the web for the asking.
Oh, and you’ll need a mooncake mold. These can be traditional wooden molds or plastic extrusion-type presses. I tried for a month to get a plastic one shipped mail-order since it seemed less intimidating, but settled for a wooden one in the end. Say a prayer.