LVDOU gao (绿豆糕), or mung bean cake, is a popular snack around China, especially in early summer.
As its name indicates, the most important ingredient is mung bean powder, which is mixed with pea powder, sugar and sweet-scented osmanthus flower.
After mixing the ingredients with water to form a dough, small pieces are hived off and steamed. A good mung bean cake has a subtle, fresh taste and is light green or yellow in color.
Two different styles predominate in China: one in the north and one in the south.
The northern variety, known as Beijing mung bean cake, is typically made without oil. The cake is drier and tastes fluffy.
The southern style - often know as Suzhou and Yangzhou mung bean cakes - uses oil, which give it a slightly greasier texture.
It may also contain stuffings such as sweetened beans, red dates or sesame paste.
Mung bean cakes in Shanghai typically follow the southern style.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, mung beans help relieve internal heat, quench thirst and are good for detoxifying the body. Thus, the cake is considered a healthy snack.
Mung bean cakes are traditionally eaten around the Dragon Boat Festival and were a favorite snacks during festivals in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Traditional restaurants such as Wangjiasha and Gongdelin in Shanghai are famous locally for their fresh mung bean cakes.
Also, some Western bakeries are making the snack nowadays, adding new flavors such pumpkin.