Mid-Autumn Festival recipes: 5 Vancouver chefs share their favourites

From a “modern take” on Hong Kong-style custard mooncakes, to the perfect pork-and-shrimp wontons, here are five delicious dishes to enjoy.

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The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Mooncake Festival, marks a celebration of harvest and family within many Asian communities.


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“In my family, we would always celebrate with a feast that ended with mooncakes, tea, and fresh fruits,” Betty Hung, co-owner of the Vancouver-based Beaucoup Bakery, says. “I remember as a kid growing up in Hong Kong, we would go to the seaside close to our home with little lanterns with my brother. It was so fun to see other kids playing with their lanterns with their families.

“Time was much simpler back in the days.”

In honour of the festival, which starts Sept. 21, marking a week of celebrations, five Vancouver chefs shared their favourite dishes to gather around.

From Hung’s “modern take” on Hong Kong-style custard mooncakes, to the perfect pork-and-shrimp wontons, here are the delicious dishes they prepared:


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Vanilla Butter Cookie Mooncakes

Created by: Betty Hung of Beaucoup Bakery.

Cookie crust

3/4 cup (170 g) unsalted butter, room temperature

3/4 cup (90 g) icing sugar

2 tbsp (30 g) whisked egg, room temperature

2 tbsp (30 g) whipping cream

1 tsp (5 g) pure vanilla extract

2-3/4 cup + 1 tbsp (360 g) cake flour

1 tbsp (12 g) cornstarch

In a stand mixer bowl, combine the butter and icing sugar. Fit with a paddle attachment, mix to combine on low speed for about a minute until the butter and icing sugar is light and fluffy. Scrape down the side of the bowl, add in the egg, cream and vanilla extract. Mix on medium speed to combine. Scrape down the bowl again. Add in the cake flour and cornstarch and mix on low speed to combine so there are no more dry bits. Turn the dough onto a clean surface and knead it with your hands for 3-5 times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before using.


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Custard filling

2 tbsp (30 g) cake flour

2-1/2 tbsp (30 g) cornstarch

2 tsp (10 g) milk powder, whole or skim

1/2 cup (100 g) coconut milk

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar

2 tsp (10 g) whipping cream

1 medium whole egg

1/4 vanilla bean, seeds only

2 tbsp (40 g) unsalted butter

Combine everything except the butter in a mixing bowl using a whisk. Whisk thoroughly to get rid of any big lumps. Strain the mixture into a small non-stick saucepan, add the butter and place it over medium heat. You should be constantly stirring the bottom of the pan with a heatproof spatula. The bottom will start to solidify and keep stirring to prevent it from burning. The filling should be cooked after 2-3 minutes. Wrap the filling with plastic wrap and place it into the cooler to let it cool completely before using.


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Portion crust into 30 grams before using. Divide the custard filling into 20-gram balls. Flatten the crust in-between two pieces of plastic wrap. Carefully remove the flattened crust and place the filling in the centre. Carefully wrap the edges of the crust around the filling and roll them into balls, repeat for the other ones.

Lightly dust the mooncake mold and the exterior of the crust with flour. Place the mold on top of the mooncake ball and gently press down the mold 2-3 times and release the molds. Place the pressed mooncake onto a parchment lined baking tray, 2 inches apart. When finished, freeze the mooncakes for about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 450 F. Prepare an egg wash by whisking together an egg yolk and a tablespoon of milk or water. When the mooncakes are chilled thoroughly, bring them out from the freezer and lightly brush the top patterns with the egg wash.


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Place the mooncakes into the preheated oven on the top rack for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden brown, rotating the tray halfway through. If desired, dust the tops of the mooncakes with edible shimmer powder with a dry brush.

They are best eaten the day they’re baked, warm or at room temperature.

Makes about 20 two-inch- round mooncakes.

White Pepper Crab

Created by: Justin Cheung of Potluck Hawker Eatery.

2.5 lb Dungeness crab, cleaned and cut

1 cup (250 mL) vegetable or canola oil

3 Thai bird’s eye chili, minced (optional)

3 garlic clove, minced

1 whole shallot, minced

2 tbsp (30 mL) white peppercorn, ground or crushed

2 tbsp (30 mL) oyster sauce

1 tbsp (15 mL) fish sauce

2 tbsp (30 mL) golden mountain sauce (or light soy sauce)


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1 1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) white sugar

1 tsp (5 mL) chicken powder (optional)

1 tbsp (15 mL) cornstarch

1/2 cup (125 mL) evaporated milk

Steam crab for 10 minutes. Allow to drain properly.

In a wok or large pot, heat 1 cup of oil on medium high heat and lightly fry crab for one minute until fragrant. Carefully remove crab and set aside.

Reserving about half a cup of oil from the crab, fry shallot, garlic and chili until fragrant. Add white pepper, sugar, chicken powder and liquid ingredients. Continue to fry in the oil for another minute.

Add 2 cups of water and bring to a simmer. Add the crab and simmer for 2 minutes.

Mix together cornstarch and evaporated milk and add to mixture, cooking until sauce starts to thicken.

Garnish with fresh herbs such as green onions and cilantro. Serve with steamed buns or bread for dipping.


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Serves 2-4.

Sweet and Spicy Eggplant

Created by: Jeremy Lau of Bovine.

3 medium Japanese eggplants 

4 oz (114 g) pressed tofu

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil

1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt

3 tbsp (45 mL) fried shallots

3 tbsp (45 mL) fermented chili 

1/4 cup (60 mL) mirin

1/4 cup (60 mL) tamari or light soy

2 tbsp (30 mL) black rice vinegar

1/4 cup (60 mL) brown sugar, soft packed

2 tsp (10 mL) cornstarch

3/4 cup (180 mL) water

Wash and slice eggplant into 3-inch by 1-inch batons. Sprinkle with kosher salt and set aside.

Slice tofu into cubes or quarter-inch slices.

Rinse off any excess salt from the eggplant and air dry to the touch.

Heat a wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add canola oil, garlic and shallots and fry until lightly golden.


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Add eggplant and fry until crisp and slightly softened. Add tofu and cook until heated through.

Remove from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, add chili paste, mirin, vinegar and tamari. Cook until slightly bubbling. Add brown sugar and water and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Mix cornstarch with 2 tbsp of water into a smooth slurry and add to the pan.

Cook until sauce is nicely thick and coats the back of a spoon.

Add eggplant and tofu mixture to the sauce and toss to coat.

Top with fresh cilantro and fried shallots and serve over rice.

Serves 2-3.

Pork and Shrimp Wonton

Created by: Kam Wai Dim Sum 金 威 點 心.

1.5 lb (~680 g) ground pork, 70% lean 30% fat

0.5 lb (~230 g) shrimp (130/150 size)

1.5 oz (40 g) sugar

1 tbsp (15 g) salt

1 tsp (5 mL) oyster sauce


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3/4 tsp (4 mL) MSG or chicken bouillon

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) white pepper

3 tbsp + 1 tsp (50 g) water

1 lb (~455g) pre-made or store-bought wonton wrapper

Place pork into a mixing bowl and mix for about 2 mins on its own.

Place salt, sugar, MSG and white pepper in with the meat and mix until the mixture stiffens through protein extraction.

Place oyster sauce and water into mixture and mix until incorporated for about 3 mins.

Place shrimp into mixture and gently fold in until fully incorporated. Scoop out about a tablespoon of mixture (about 16 g) into the middle of the wonton wrapper.

Dab a little bit of water onto the edges of the wrapper and fold into your favourite shapes.

Cooking wontons

Bring half a pot of water to a boil, then add in wontons.


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Once wontons are in the pot, bring temperature to medium high and wait for them to float to top (6 mins from frozen, 5 mins freshly wrapped).

When the wontons have floated up, wait another 3 mins and put into your favourite broth.

Makes about 50-60 dumplings.

Duck Spice and Marinade

Created by: Montgomery Lau, executive chef of Bacchus Restaurant.

Spice mix

1 tbsp (15 mL) Szechuan peppercorn, whole

1 tsp (5 mL) black peppercorn, whole

1 tsp (15 mL) all spice, whole

1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) green cardamom, whole

3 pieces clove, whole

1 piece dried bay leaf

Measure spices, then place mixture in a frying man on medium-high heat. Move the pan consistently to ensure spices are evenly toasted. After toasting, transfer spices onto a metal tray and let it cool down. Once cooled, place spices in a spice grinder and blend until fine spice mix is achieved. Using a fine strainer, sift this mixture to remove any large pieces of fibres from the cardamom. Reserve spice mix.


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1/4 peel of fresh orange (no pits), fine julienne

1 sprig rosemary

2 sprigs thyme

1 sprig sage

1 piece shallot

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup (60 mL) extra virgin olive oil

To marinate duck breast

Trim duck breast until it’s free of silver skin. Using a knife, lightly score the outer skin of the duck in very fine lines. Be careful not to score too deep to cut into the meat of the duck. Turn the duck breast 90 degrees and repeat the scoring once more, forming diamond patterns on the skin. This will aid in rendering the fat in the skin when pan-roasting duck. After scoring, turn the duck so that the meat side faces up and skin side down. Sprinkle spice mix over top, be careful not to get the ground spice on the skin.

In a storage container, spread out sliced garlic, shallot, rosemary, thyme, sage and orange peel. Drizzle a liberal amount of olive oil over herbs, then place duck into the container, meat side down. Wrapped tightly with plastic film and place in the fridge until further use. Recommended time for marination is 24 hours. After it’s marinated, remove the duck and wipe off the aromatic. Try to keep the skin as clean as possible in the process. Reserve until you’re ready to cook.

Yields enough for one or two duck breasts.



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Source: vancouversun.com