We always make a point to eat soup dumplings when we visit NYC—each time trying a new place. On our last visit to the city we were recommended Shanghai You Garden in Flushing, and that’s where we had mooncakes for the first time. These weren’t the typical sweet mooncakes, but instead had a delicious pork filling inside. After my first bite, I wished I skipped the soup dumplings and opted for a pile of mooncakes.
I wanted to try making them at home, but was intimidated by the flaky dough at the time. So instead I paired the mooncake filling with my favorite kolache dough. It’s a great combo. If you want to make the authentic version, give Betty Liu’s recipe over on Food52 a try.
Find Betty Liu’s recipe for mooncakes in her new cookbook, My Shanghai: Recipe and Stories from a City on the Water
Here are the recipes for both the mooncake pork filling and Kolache bread, courtesy of Betty Liu and The Homesick Texan, respectively. I still have plans to try the traditional flaky dough, but for now this combo is a dinner staple.
Savory Mooncake Filling (doubled from original)
Combine ingredients and roll into 12 balls
1 lb. lean ground pork
4 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon dashi powder (optional)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
2 dashes white pepper
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
Kolache Dough Recipe
1 package active dry yeast
1 cup warm milk
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
3/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
To make the dough, in a large bowl, combine yeast, warm milk, sugar, and one cup of flour. Cover and let it rise until doubled in size.
Beat together the eggs, 1/2 cup of melted butter (reserve 1/4 cup for brushing on the pastry), and salt. Add egg mixture to yeast mixture and blend.
Stir in about 2 more cups of flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and moist. Knead dough for about 10 minutes on floured surface. Don’t worry, it’s a joy to knead as the dough is smooth and highly malleable. Put dough in a greased bowl and let rise covered until doubled in size—about an hour.
After dough has risen, punch it down and pull off egg-sized pieces. In your hands, roll pieces into balls and then flatten to about 3 inches in diameter. Place flattened pieces on a greased cookie sheet, cover and let rise again for another half-hour.
After the second rising of the dough, with your finger gently make an indention in the center of the dough and place a pork ball. Wrap and seal the dough around the ball being careful not to crush the dough too much. Brush with half the remaining melted butter.
Bake in an oven at 375° F until internal temperature reaches 165° and the bread is lightly browned. This occurs somewhere between 12-15 minutes depending on your oven. Watch them carefully!
*Kolaches are a sweet Czech pastry. In Texas (or at least Southeast Texas) the word has come to describe the sausage and cheese breakfast pastry we gorge ourselves with on weekends, alongside donuts. If you want to be correct, the proper word for these is klobasnek (plural: klobasniky).