The Singaporean Hainanese Moon Cake – 酥盐月饼

Like many of the Hainanese-styled food that you will find in Singapore, like Hainanese pork chops, chicken curry and beef stew, the Hainanese moon cake that some of the older Hainanese generation are familiar with cannot be found in Hainan Island.

My dad and his family used to run the only confectionery in Singapore that sells Hainanese moon cake in Purvis Street. Hainanese of his generation and maybe even mine would have grown up eating this even Moon Cake Festival or giving them as gifts to relatives.

Side note: For the younger generation of Hainanese: Middle Road, Purvis Street and Seah Street used to called Hainan Street 1, 2 and 3. Sometimes, you may still here the older generations calling them by those names and some taxi driver too still recognize them by those names. Those streets are, of course, where a lot of Hainanese used to stay and grew up in. The Hainanese character is almost gone now, except with a few chicken rice and Hainanese food stalls.

From what my dad told me, the Hainanese moon cake is actually not a real moon cake (duh!!) and also not known in Hainan Island. It was actually adapted from a similar biscuit found probably in Shanghai or its parts called 酥饼 or flaky biscuit. He is not sure when our family started selling it, but he thought that it was probably started from his grandparents generation. You see, as the Hainanese were relatively poor at that time, they could not afford to buy the typical sugar loaded lotus and salted egg moon cakes and being a Hainanese confectionery family, we had to sell something that Hainanese could buy and voila!

Whatever happened, this sure became synonymous with Singaporean Hainanese during moon cake festival since.

Alas, its sad that due to family conflicts, back biting, stabbing and all sorts of melodrama with the family (as with any big families sometimes), the family tradition could not continue and the confectionery has to close.

What is unique (and what I liked) about the Hainanese moon cake is that it is blend of umami from fried onions and pork lard, slightly sweet and salty, a little spicy with pepper and an uplifting tanginess. This just a beautiful blend of flavors when the balance of ingredients are there. That is why, it was very hard to duplicate this if you don’t have the exact recipe and proportions, as I have seen people attempting to do it before.

The main ingredients are sesame seeds with some melon seeds, this is vastly different from the traditional moon cake made with loads of sugar and lotus paste. In a sense, I could say that its healthier, but not necessarily less fattening!

Into the fillings goes grounded white pepper to give it its spiciness; rose flavored fine sugar, to give it the sweetness and additional fragrance; a bit of salt; and finally, what I feel is most important, dried tangerine skin peel. My dad says that traditionally, they got what is called 山桔 from some parts of China. These are wild tangerines that are dried up and very hard. He told me that it is a very tedious process to grind up the tangerine skin as it is very hard, but it gives a really wonderful tanginess and fragrance. Its hard to find that now and the substitute ones (and cheaper ones from Malaysia or even China) are not as fragrant or tangy anymore.

As for the skin, its nothing more than flour, water, a bit of salt and pork lard. But skills come to play on how to fold it to up the flakiness of the skin. Also the skin must be thin enough. I have tried some duplicate one where the skin is just too thick and everything is tasteless. Mind you, because the skin has pork lard, it can be pretty oily on the surface.

I will hope to dig out the exact recipe from my dad, but I think it more depends on experience and skills to get it right than just the recipe. Also I am not afraid of people getting the recipe, the more people know it, the more this moon cake will stay, even if the younger generation may not appreciate it anymore.

There you go… for those who have no idea what a Hainanese moon cake is and those who have eaten Hainanese moon cake and not sure what its all about.

Update: My cousin, Suan is keeping the tradition alive and making and selling the mooncake. If you are interested, please contact him suanchong2896@gmail.com

Also they have a small video feature his mom and the mooncake 

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Using personal belief to trump company values

In a recently FB posting on the interview with Oogachaga, K Shanmugam, the Singapore Law Minister, mentioned the following:

Subsequently, I met with other people, some of whom are opposed to LGBT lifestyles.They also raised with me the issue of harassment, this time, by LGBT groups against those who don’t support the cause. I gave them the same answer: harassment is not acceptable. If a line is crossed, action will be taken. And POHA offers civil remedies. They also said that in foreign financial institutions, young people who are opposed to LGBT causes are subject to a great deal of pressure to go out and support the LGBT cause, despite their personal beliefs. I asked them to give me some details.

From the above report, I guess that these young people are those who had joined the firms under their graduate programs. In general when young people from the graduate programs join a firm, they will be put through the paces and they will be exposed to the various diversity programs and values in which the firm hold dear.  Continue reading

Beware of mislabeling hate speech as emotive speech

 

This is my original letter to Today’s forum and it was published today 30 June, but with some explosive contents removed lolz. Still it captures the essence of what I wanted to convey.

I refer to the letter “Beware of labeling emotive comments as hate speech” (June 24) by  Julian Lim Choong Ping.

The writer seems to think that Bryan Lim’s speech was taken out of context. However, let’s not forget that he posted the message on a Facebook social group which fights against rightful tax paying LGBT Singaporeans from equal rights from discrimination. A social group where posters regular incite violence against LGBT folks and posts pictures of beheading, hanging and beating of LGBT folks to support their point and yet hardly any police report were made against those posters.

Secondly, in the context of Orlando’s mass shooting incident,  Mr Lim’s speech brought about fear and panic amongst LGBT folks, their families and friends alike. Such speech cannot be construed as “emotive” speech but hate speech because of the possibility of incident actual violence against someone or groups of people. The writer fails and perhaps refuses to understand the kind of anxiety, fear and panic such message brought towards the LGBT community, their family and friends. The consequence’s of his message is only for him to bare, but it could have huge and deadly consequence for many more innocent people, especially when there are people who liked and supported what Mr. Lim has posted.

It seems odd that the writer find it reasonable to incite violence against people in the LGBT community and that its an infringement of his freedom of speech whereas. Yet he makes no mention that we have such laws to protect against person’s race, religion and gender. Is he suggesting that our sedition law is infringing on his freedom of speech too?

Any possible consequences of Mr Lim’s action on his employment is unfortunately, but not because of pressure from LGBT groups, but because it is the right thing to do in the context of the company’s own diversity policy. Just like how a senior banker was dismissed for expletive-laced rant against a group of construction worker in 2012. Not because of pressure from construction workers but because it was the correct thing to do.

The Today’s published article:

http://www.todayonline.com/voices/bryan-lims-comments-caused-anxiety-lgbt-community

Bryan Lim’s comments caused anxiety in LGBT community

FROM KELVIN WONG HENG
PUBLISHED: 10:40 PM, JUNE 29, 2016
The writer of “Beware of labelling emotive comments as hate speech” (June 24, online) seems to think that Mr Bryan Lim’s comments were taken out of context.

Let us not forget that Mr Lim posted his message on the page of a Facebook group that fights against the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Singaporeans to be free from discrimination.

Members of this group regularly incite violence against LGBT people through the pictures they post, for example, and yet hardly any police reports have been made against them.

In the context of the Orlando shooting, Mr Lim’s comments brought fear to LGBT people, their families and their friends.

Such speech cannot be construed as “emotive” but as hate speech because of the possibility of incident violence against someone or groups of people. The writer fails and perhaps refuses to understand the kind of panic those comments caused.

Oddly, he seems to find it unreasonable to infringe on speech that incites violence against the LGBT community, yet he makes no mention of such laws to protect against feelings of enmity between Singapore’s different races.

Is he suggesting that the Sedition Act infringes on his freedom of speech too?

The consequences of Mr Lim’s comments are for him to bear, but they could have huge consequences for innocent people, especially when there were others who liked and supported what he had posted.

Any possible consequences for his employment would only be right in the context of his company’s diversity policy, and not because of LGBT groups.

In 2012, a senior banker was dismissed for his expletive-laced rant against a group of construction workers, not because of pressure from construction workers but because it was the correct thing to do.

Show me the money Shan!

The tragedy in Orlando this week has brought up many different issues; internalized homophobia, violence against LGBT community, religious fanaticism and gun laws in the US.

Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam offered his and the government’s condolences to the victims and reiterated that they will protect all its people.

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/government-will-protect-people-regardless-of-race-religion-or-sexuality-shanmugam

The Government will protect its people regardless of race, religion or sexuality, Minister of Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam said at the Khadijah Mosque on Tuesday (June 14).

“It looks like the gay community has been targeted. This is unacceptable. Violence against any group in any form is not acceptable. Here, the government will act decisively if there is threat of violence against anyone or any group. The government’s duty is to protect everyone.

“Their race, their religion, their sexual orientation, that’s not relevant,” he said, in the aftermath of a massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando last Sunday, when a lone attacker called Omar Mateen gunned down some 50 people in the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

Yes, its a heartfelt condolence and sincere no doubt, but to many in the LGBT community, it rings hollow in view of the law and how the government allows and enforces its view in the public sphere. Continue reading

Alvin Tan pity Singaporeans but its really not that bad after all

State Times Review posted a piece by Malaysian turned US asylum seeker Alvin Tan on the state of Singaporeans, which I believe some Singaporeans agree with.

http://statestimesreview.com/2015/09/07/alvin-tan-i-pity-singaporeans/

Although I agree with the gist of Alvin’s rants, its is not that bad after all for some of us. Note that I am writing this as my opinion being a middle class person with a relatively comfortable and uneventful life.

 1.  We work like a dog for 30 years in soul-sucking office jobs

Honestly, I think this describes maybe 80% of the whole world who are working in thankless office jobs or jobs they don’t like; so its not unique to Singaporeans. Personally, I have been lucky to be working in roles I enjoyed and with relatively good bosses (of course, there were some not so good ones too) and good companies. My office job has never been soul-sucking, except when under a bad boss, but majority of my working life has been enjoyable. Continue reading

When anti-gay rhetoric turns deadly

Last year to me was a defining shift in the anti-gay movement in Singapore. I am not talking about churches because we know the position that they have always held. I am talking about people who are specifically anti-gay like those in WeAreAgainstPinkDot, who talks about nothing but the destruction of gay folks, spreading misinformation, hatred, fear and encouraging suffering towards LGBT folks. Most of us usually laugh them off as silly, ill-concieved and even stupid logic and generally pay no attention to them. Neither does the authorities in general.

Then #wearwhite movement came into the picture and that to me sent a scary picture of rhetoric turning in action. I agree with my Muslim friends that wearing white by itself is not the problem and indeed if all Muslims who proclaim to support wear white following their sunnah of charity, kindness, peace, compassion and love, this would not be an issue. However, the premise of starting the #wearwhite movement was someone incessed that Pink Dot 2014 happend on the Muslim holy month and of having Muslim representative in their promotional video as sign of inclusiveness and love. I think we all can see the irony of it a movement to as Muslims to be pure at heart is started by someone angry and feeling incessed by insults. This is not different from many gay conversion movements that were started by gay people and who later regretted their involvements. Continue reading

PM Lee is right, Singapore is not ready for gay marriage

Many bloggers took PM Lee to task for one of the article recently.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/more-singapore-stories/story/singapore-not-ready-same-sex-marriage-society-still-cons

Apparently one of the journalist asked PM Lee about gay marriage in Singapore and he said that Singapore is not ready for it because we are conservative society. He also noted that “We do not harass them or discriminate against them” and also that most Singaporeans would not want LGBT community to the the tone for Singapore society.  He, of course, warned against pushing the agenda too hard in case of strong pushback and that the views are very entrenched and that people get angrier as they discuss it.

Personally, I feel that journalist had asked the wrong question. Of course, PM Lee is right that we are not ready for gay marriage because we are jumping the gun on this. With penal code 377a still looming over the heads of gay men and an unofficial policy of non positive portrayal of “gay lifestyle”, we still have a long way to go before we discuss about gay marriage. So I feel that some folks are being unfair to PM Lee on this because the question was the wrong one to ask. Continue reading