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Raw With Chef Yin - M is for Mooncake Musings

Still munching on mooncakes? Let me share with you a bit more about my mooncake making mania.

I stopped eating traditional mooncakes a few years ago because of all the preservatives and artificial colouring in them, not to mention all those egg yolks which I’m allergic to. I thought it would be a fun project to attempt to make raw vegan versions instead.

Last year, I spotted a photo of a raw vegan mooncake which just blew my mind. It was truly an exquisite work of art. It looked so inviting and yet so fragile. I already had my basic raw culinary education but it didn’t occur to me yet how to come up with something like that.

This year, armed with the new knowledge that I had gained from training at Asia’s first classically structured plant-based culinary academy at the Matthew Kenney Culinary Academy in Thailand, I was determined that I’d be able to make some decent versions of a healthy, yummy, raw mooncake by September 15, which was the Mid-Autumn Festival.

I was actually chatting with a fellow raw food instructor in Singapore who told me that it’s actually pretty simple to make raw mooncakes. And I had also seen cool mooncake postings by my friend at Hearty Raw Kitchen and was really inspired by her. In fact, there was one day I woke up dreaming about raw mooncakes at three in the morning and decided, YES, this is totally a sign. I googled to see if there were any recipes already out there and only found one decent one. There are loads of recipes for traditional mooncakes but there were less than a handful for raw mooncakes. That just meant I had to start experimenting and developing the recipes myself!

I watched tons of YouTube videos on how to make traditional mooncakes. And did lots of reading up. And tried very hard to recall what I learnt from the mooncake workshop I attended ages ago. The first thing to think about was the crust. I’d need to use nut flour to make it. But what would bind it together into a pliable dough? I initially used ground chia seeds but that meant the colour would be dark due to the black chia seeds. Eventually I found a happy ratio of nut flour and maple syrup that would make a nice pliable texture to roll into balls and flatten into circles.

The fillings were really fun to develop! I tested out everything I had from durians to chocolate to dried lavender flowers and more. I also wanted natural colouring and refused to use any food dye so in came beetroot and blue pea flowers into the picture.

A new raw mooncake recipe was created every day. There would be no flour, no eggs, no white sugar, no dairy, no lard in my recipes. Instead, I used nuts, seeds, fruit and natural sweeteners for a healthier version. And then it was time for public testing. I brought them everywhere and would feed them to anyone who would be open to trying them. It was pretty cool because my testers were made up of international touring musicians, an award-winning filmmaker, a Kebaya Jazz queen, a video editor, an award winning artiste, a former colleague from 16 years ago, a TEDxKL 2016 presenter, a singer-songwriter with 17.6K followers on Instagram, an Executive Chef of 3 restaurants and a Malaysian Idol finalist.

Feedback was varied, interesting and most helpful.

Eh, this doesn’t taste like mooncake. It’s yummy, but it’s not a mooncake? Call it something else, maybe?”

Mmmmmmmmm, so sedap!”

Wow, so pretty. So intricate.”

Oooh, it’s yummyyyyy!!”

Why so chewy? I didn’t expect it to be chewy?”

I’ll have the chocolate & cranberry because I don’t like beetroot.

Are you selling them? Where can I get a box?”

With each testing, I tweaked the recipes in a fervent quest to make them marvellous.

Folks would start messaging me on Facebook and Whatsapp, urging me to sell them. I was reluctant. I made them because, well, I had this urge to create. It was my creative outlet. To have to sell them would be a whole different ballgame. I usually tell people I focus on education - conducting workshops, demos and private consultation and less on retail.

And then one day, Nikki Palikat said this on her Instagram post:

“So I was wandering along the streets of Telawi when I was called out by Abang @seanghaziofficial and introduced to the scary genius @azsamad and raw food expert @rawchefyin who feeds me with the tastiest mooncake I've had in my life. Such fortune. To quote Abang Sean it tastes like health. Bursting, radiant health where you feel your cells thanking you and your lifespan increasing. I need a box of these please!”

I guess it’s time to make them for sale, huh? Especially when my water kefir customer told me he was planning to pick up two boxes together with his two bottles of water kefir. 

And so I came up with these flavours of ‘Mooncakes by #RawChefYin’

  • Green Tea & Black Sesame
  • Chocolate & Cranberry
  • Sunflower & Lavender
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg & Apricot

On my first day of mooncake making, I ate three out of the 10 that I made. Heh. Resist, Yin, resist!

Making one mooncake per day is easy, but try making 38 mooncakes in a day? That was total Mooncake Madness.

I’ve got lots more stories to tell, but why don’t we do that over a cup of tea and some of your very own homemade raw mooncakes instead? After all, I’ve already shared my recipe here.