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Friday, September 17, 2010

Mid Autumn Festival - Lotus Seeds and Mooncakes

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.

"As a lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises out of water to stand above it unsoiled, so, I, born in the world, raised in the world having overcome the world, live unsoiled by the world."
..... Gautama Buddha (563-483 B.C.)

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.

Have you eaten raw lotus seeds before?

“Mid Autumn Festival - Lotus Seeds and Mooncakes”, a copyrighted post, was written for My Nice Garden blog by Autumn Belle @ 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
See the full story from The Star online here.

If you happen to be in Malaysia during this season, do join in the fun. Try some mooncakes!


  1. That's a lot of ingredients to make a large mooncake! I bet it feeds a lot of people too.
    We have a market here that may have lotus seeds. I am going to search for them now. You have made me curious to see what they are like.
    The pink mooncake is so pretty! I would never want to eat it, it is a work of art!

  2. Those mooncakes look delicious! And I love the motifs on them. Lotus patterns are all over the place here in India too. I think they look gorgeous!

  3. The green mooncake looks fabulous. It must be tasting good too. Hope you are enjoying the festive season.

  4. Great reminders of the childhood games. I can never resist popping the young ones on my forehead when I get the chance!The varieties of mooncakes increase year by year but I still enjoy the lotus paste , red bean and the mixed nuts:) Yum!

  5. Autumn Belle: Happy mid-autumn festival to you! Being in US, I often miss those traditional festivals. Although we also try to keep the tradition as much as possible by celebrating them together with some of our Chinese friends here.

    Those green and pink mooncakes look so beautiful, and I love the Chinese characters on that pink one. My favorite mooncake is lotus paste with salty egg yolk :)

  6. This is fascinating. To me lotus seed heads are something unusual for flower arrangers. Didn't know you could eat those seeds.
    BTW Nos 3 and 5 of your pictures are blank, and right click then says Function Disabled.

  7. The lotus bloom is so lovely, thanks for the informative post. I tried lotus seeds in Laos.

  8. Hi Autumn Belle, I love the green mooncake with the picture of lotus on it. Very pretty. I also love the snow skin kind of mooncake. But it does look too beautiful to be eaten.

    Actually when I posted about Lotus recently, I considered talking about edible seeds and lotus roots. I love lotus roots soup and fried lotus chips available usually during CNY. Good that I left it out. You do a better job.

  9. Dear Autumn Belle,

    Thank you so much for sharing another of your wonderful festivals with us! This post is fascinating.

    Love, Pam

  10. Eaten the fresh lotus seed before at my uncle's fish farm..Still prefer the old traditional moon cakes guess very old fashioned..have not tuned into the lotus flower & the quotation which always reminds me of its purity. tQ

  11. Did you taste the Haagen Dazs ice-cream mooncakes ?
    Bon appetit :)

  12. Lotus is considered sacred here in India as Goddess Laxmi is said to dwell on it, during Diwali (festival of lights) time. It is also offered to Lord Shiva while offering prayers in the temple :)

    Have never tasted it seeds n those Moon cakes sure look deliciously scrumptious, colourful n so Yummy. Would love to taste them.

  13. ohhh, so that's how it looks!

    i envy you guys can have easy access to get mooncakes, not here =(

  14. Hello Autumn Belle, such a delightful and evocative post..I would love to eat lotus and mooncake one day...

  15. I have a lotus in my pond and didn't know till very recently, by reading peoples blog,s that the seeds could be eaten. I've never heard or seen mooncakes before but they look great. I'd like to try them.

  16. That's funny that you mention the Haagen Daz b/c my mom keeps telling me that they're super duper expensive in Hong Kong and have to be special ordered.

    I love mooncakes. I have to say it was an acquired taste for me though. When I was young, I used to just shave off the outside to eat. Now, i can really appreciate the salted egg yolk in the middle, especially when it sits at room temperature and the oils begin to run... I'm sure you know what I'm talkinga bout, right?!

  17. I'm not a big fan of mooncake but love to see the different patterns on them at the shops. They are selling anywhere now, even at shopping centres!

  18. I never knew the lotus seeds can be eaten raw. The lotus flower is my favorite flower and for the first time, I was able to smell a fresh one 3 weeks ago while at someone's house who lives in a different city. I can't believe how fragrant the lotus is!! Unfortunately San Francisco's weather is usually in the 60s and cloudy so it's not a suitable place to grow lotus flowers.

    We don't have that many variety of mooncakes. They're usually the brown ones. I'd love to try the pandan flower one day.

  19. Hi Autumn Belle,

    Amazing post about Lotus and Mooncake!


  20. Hello Autumn the info on the lotus and moon cakes. I bought a moon cake many months ago that was refrigerated, it is still in my refrigerator can it be still edible? I am afraid that it might have gone off but don't know.

  21. I enjoyed the Moon cake post I found it very interesting and intriguing.. The Art work on the cakes are beautiful!

    Thank you for sharing..

  22. I 've only eaten lotus seeds in mooncakes. Thanks for the reminder Autumn I shall look for them the next time I'm in a grocery store.

  23. Hi, thank you very much for the nice comments. I think the best mooncakes are those that are a little bit oily, i.e oozing with oil when you bite on it, just like how Wendy described it.

    As for Hagen Daz ice cream mooncakes, it cost RM 38.00 (USD 10.00) per piece here, which is way over my budget :(
    With the same amount of money, I can buy 4 mooncakes!

  24. How to grow lotus from seeds :


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