Well I took my first stab at mooncakes today and determined that my textures were mostly wrong: dough too soft, filling WAY too runny. It was a sloppy mess. I corrected the dough for the skins, but the filling is a bit of a toughie. The canned bean paste that I can find here has the consistency of applesauce…nothing like the near-putty consistency I’ve seen in some YouTube videos on the subject. I’m not sure what to do about that since it’s the only filling option I’ve got at the moment. Thicken the existing paste with gelatin, maybe? Order some lotus seeds and make my own filling from scratch? It’s a puzzler. There’s not much of a Chinese community here in Louisville so my options are few. I’ll noodle this some more. Stay posted, as it were.

32 thoughts on “Problems”

  1. Would cooking down the bean sauce work? Like how you make apple butter from apple sauce?

    1. Funny you should mention that, Katherine. I tried it and it scorched before it reduced to a thicker consistency. Rats!

      Thanks though!

      – Joe

  2. I commend you for tackling this project 🙂 Maybe you can strain your canned paste? Or cook it down a bit? I would opt for making your own paste (great recipes online), but I can image lotus seeds being a bit difficult to find in Louisville. 😉

    1. Hi Rosie!

      Cooking down didn’t work. It burned before it got thick. Straining may be worth a shot, though. I’ll try it! Lotus seed paste was actually my next thought, since I’d be able to make it to my own desired thickness…but yes, where in Kentucky can you find them? I’ll give it a shot, because I’m proud and hate to admit defeat!


      – Joe

  3. Seems like homemade red bean paste might be easier to tackle than lotus root paste. Or if the filling you have is overly sweet, you could try adding plain cooked red beans to the filling you have. I feel like gelatin might not be the right texture, but I’m not a huge eater of red bean paste.

    1. I think you’re right about the gelatin, Deanna. I have the same reservations. I’ll look into some adzuki beans!

      – Joe

  4. What about making your own red bean paste? Adzuki beans might be a bit easier to come by than lotus seeds.

    Or if you have a mini crock-pot, maybe you could leave the canned paste on warm/low for several hours, rather than doing it on the stove?

    1. I think you may be on to something there, Nicole. I used up all my canned paste, but I’ll see if I can find any beans at the Asian markets here. Thanks!

      – Joe

  5. Since cooking it down on the stovetop (I assume) didn’t work, what about spreading it on a sheet pan and popping it in a slow oven to evaporate it out for awhile?

    1. I’ve found that this is a common method for thickening home made bean paste. Great thinking, Tom!

      – Joe

  6. Hello Joe – You probably already thought of this…but when you strain, like Rosie suggested, might a layer of cheesecloth in the strainer help?

  7. There is some mention on wikipedia about dry cooking and adding lye water to speed it up. Though it also mentions squeezing in cheese cloth during production.

    Possibly cmbining the two would help?

    While it wouldn’t be as authentic, if the lotus paste is a real no go, you could try white bean paste. Even if you can’t buy it, the ingredients would be a lot easier to get hold of.

  8. Try some Japanese bean paste?

    From red adzuki beans. Here in Honolulu we can buy it in regular supermarkets. It comes in sticks, as a soft solid. Or you can make your own. It’s not difficult, just tedious. Me, I prefer the commercial, sieved product to grandma’s lumpy homemade paste.

    Mooncakes can be made with all sorts of pastes, not just lotus seed.

    1. If I could find it I’d love it, Karen! Unfortunately I have to improvise with what I can find locally. I have some beans now, so maybe I can make something work here. Thanks!

      – Joe

  9. I don’t want to say “I told you so”, but remember what I told you? Here’s one other thing my Chinese friend’s mom told me when I told her that that my bean paste was runny: “Maybe you just need to be Chinese to make a decent mooncake.”

    The recipe I followed was:
    600g red beans
    2 C sugar
    3/4 c oil or shortening.
    Rinse and soak beans overnight. Boil in 7 c. fresh water for 1.5 hrs. Stir over high heat to boil off the water. Add ingredients while stirring continuously for 10-15 min. “After refrigerating the bean paste consistency should be thick enough to make balls.”

    The times are all quite approximate. My experience was that every step too so much longer than specified that I thought time was standing still. The last sentence is a direct quote… and for me that thickening barely happened. I could form balls but then they melted during the bake. I thought you would have better luck with prepared bean paste. Maybe one really needs to be Chinese to have success. Or… if you keep trying you can prove her wrong; I certainly gave up out of frustration (but might be tempted to try again given your inspiration)!

    1. You did tell me, but only after I’d started, so it doesn’t count axes fair warning! Anyway I’d classify this as more of a speed bump. We’ll see what the future holds!

      Thanks for the recipe!

      – Joe

  10. Maybe 35 years ago I made red bean paste. It took Forever to cook and the taste was exactly like canned bean paste, so I never bothered to do it again. No, you don’t need to be Chinese to do it! I think the brand I used most often was Koon Chun.

  11. Hi Joe,

    If i may add a lil 1 cent to this discussion. Here (in my country) we make something we call ‘chinese cake’ and we make a blackeye bean paste for the filling. After boiling the peas and seiving it out, we parch flour and add a bit of wine and home made caramel to the bean to make the ‘paste’. its usually smooth and if i assume correctly the texture u are lookign for, i think we achieve that too. 🙂

    1. Fascinating, Melody! I’d like to try that. Do you add the hot caramel directly to the sieved beans?

      – Joe

      1. Hi Joe,
        well, the caramel was premade and by the time it was added to the bean paste, it was cold. oh btw, colloquially, we call our caramel ‘burnt sugar’. it is usually black in colour and thick and smooth.

        1. Black you say. That’s dark caramel! What is the consistency? I presume it’s soft when it goes in?

          And what sort of flour is added? Thanks for your help!

          – Joe

      1. I agree with this method as I have done it myself.
        Use a large pyrex bowl with handle as the cooked beans will be very hot. Stir the bean mixture at intervals (depending on the wattage of your microwave).

        I use the same method to make my pineapple filling on my Indonesian pineapple tarts. It is quicker and I don’t have to constantly stand by the stove (the traditional method).

        You may want to consult with Andrea Nguyen of Viet World Kitchen. She’s very helpful in solving problems like this.

        HTH, Joe.

  12. I found the brand of red bean paste my mom always bought on Amazon.

    I remember it being very thick and shape-able.

    It also looks like Bob’s Red Mill brand sells red adzuki beans, maybe your local Whole Foods store will have it? Although I’ve generally found that homemade red bean paste is not as smooth as canned and the lumps and skin fragments make for an unpleasant texture in the mouth.

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