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Husband Cake: Origins of Hong Kong Lao Gong Bing Cake

To truly appreciate Chinese cuisine, one should look to the food culture behind the recipes.  The names of many Chinese dishes have both a cultural and artistic element in the dishes.  There are historical, geographical and political background and even origins from Chinese fairy tales and folk tales.

Originating from Hong Kong, Lao Gong Bing’s main ingredients include: fermented red bean curd, peanuts, sesame, five star anise, butter and salt.  The popular Husband Cake is the saltier counterpart to one of two famous pastries in Hong Kong; the other being the famed wife cake pastry.

 

 

The Chinese Name, Lao Gong Bing (老公饼), is translated as old man cake.  However, it is known as husband cake in Chinese bakeries. The most popular version of the story behind the husband cake is…

There existed two childhood sweethearts who were loyal and steadfast to each other.  The couple came from poor families.  The only option to rise from poverty was for the young man to take the national examination for government office.  Unfortunately, the young man did not have enough funds to take the test.  His sweetheart decided to create the salty pastry made of fermented red bean, star anise and sesame to raise the money for his government exam.  Her efforts paid off.  The young man not only passed the exam, but he scored the best marks to win the position of a high ranking officer.  This lead to the pastry being called husband cake.

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