The Lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) is sacred to Buddhists, Taoists and Hindus. We see Buddha sitting on a lotus bloom. It is a sign of the attainment of nirvana or enlightenment. Guan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy is also often depicted as sitting on a lotus flower. In fengshui, it is an auspicious symbol of good fortune, perfection and advancement. A perfect beauty that is so pure.
These lotus seed pods were my favourite raw snack when I was a kid. We can eat them fresh from the pods, but of course we have to peel off the skin first. You can find them in the smaller towns where there are lotus ponds. The pods are sold in bundles of 3 to 5 each. The seeds taste differently depending on their stage of maturity. The medium sized seeds are sweet, soft and juicy while the bigger/older seeds are bitter if we do not remove the germ in the centre of the seed.
“Mid Autumn Festival - Lotus Seeds and Mooncakes”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ http://www.mynicegarden.com/ on Sept 17th, 2010.
Young seeds of this size tastes best. Some seeds inside the pods are too thin and young, therefore they do not contain any flesh inside. We can use it to 'bang' on our foreheads so that it makes a pop sound when the seeds burst open upon impact. This was a game we kids liked to play on one another.
As for the long stalks, we can break them up at intervals and pull on it until the long strands of thread-like fibres are visible. Then we can turn it into a chain or necklace. These are some of the FOC, DIY games we used to play.
Dried lotus seeds in brown or white form are also available at the markets and medicine shops. We used dried lotus seeds to make herbal soups and dessert drinks (tong shui). It is one of the ingredients used in cooking the dish called "Eight Treasures Chicken".
Lotus seed paste is used to make the filling of mooncakes. Some bakers use dates, taro, beans or sweet potato paste but lotus seed paste is considered the original filling for mooncakes. This mooncake with the traditional baked brown skin can be kept for 1 month and need not be refrigerated. There are melon seeds and egg yolks inside. The number of egg yolks are usually 1 or 2 but some have more.
A snow skin (Ping Pei) mooncake with beautiful lotus flower motifs. Green coloured mooncakes usually have pandan flavour. This mooncake need to be refrigerated when not eaten immediately.
This is jelly mooncake. In Malaysia, we also have durian mooncakes and Haagen Dazs is promoting their ice-cream mooncakes from 19 Aug - 26 Sep 2010.
Today's newspapers carries a report about an enormous Rainbow Mooncake from Leong Yin Pastry in Penang. The features are:
- 8 layers of filling which include lotus paste, blueberry, cranberry, emerald pandan, white lotus, US lemon, apple and white coffee.
- 8 people are needed to carry the mooncake
- When cut into bite sizes, 6,000 people can try it
- It costs RM 18,000 (USD 5,800) to make and takes 12 hours to bake
- Dimensions are height = 33cm and diameter = 96.52 cm
If you happen to be in Malaysia during this season, do join in the fun. Try some mooncakes!