Ever found yourself reading a book and wishing you could eat the delectable foods described on the page? Well now is your chance to make the wonderful snow-skin mooncakes from Sher Lee’s delicious rom-com Fake Dates and Mooncakes! Read on as Sher Lee shares some of her inspiration behind the book, and then try your hand at her recipe!
A Recipe for Love: Food, Family, and Fake Dates!
by Sher Lee
Hello! I’d like to share a little more about my debut YA novel, Fake Dates and Mooncakes, pitched as Heartstopper meets Crazy Rich Asians. This heartfelt, joyful rom-com follows an aspiring chef who discovers the recipe for love is more complicated than it seems when he starts fake-dating a handsome new customer.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, and it’s a cherished part of my childhood. I have fond memories of walking around with lanterns under the full moon as a kid and, when I was older, making snow-skin mooncakes with my favourite aunt. This beloved tradition is the heart of the story—Dylan participates in a mooncake contest in honour of his late mother, who wanted them to join together, and he’s motivated to win the prize to bring much-needed publicity to his aunt’s struggling Chinese takeout in Brooklyn.
One recurring comment from readers has been: don’t read this when you’re hungry! “Clearly the universal love language is food,” Theo’s aunt remarks in the novel, and food is a big part of this story. All the major events invariably take place around food—from the first time Theo and Dylan meet when Dylan delivers a wrong order to Theo’s friend’s apartment, to Dylan’s determination to re-create his grandma’s lost mooncake recipe that has been passed down for generations. His aunt’s takeout, Wok Warriors, also sells all the Singaporean Chinese dishes I love: chye tow kway (fried radish and egg pancake), satay, fried Hokkien prawn mee, stir-fried egg fried rice, and of course, xiao long bao!
The Mid-Autumn Festival celebrates love and families, and the full moon is a symbol of reunion. These are all major themes in the book, along with coping with loss and finding love in unexpected places and against the odds. Opposites attract, and even though the boys’ worlds are sun-and-moon apart, eclipses happen every now and then!
I’m also incredibly proud of the diverse cast. Dylan is Singaporean Chinese, and Theo is biracial Asian-American. They’re surrounded with a strong cast of smart, funny female characters, and the boys could not have succeeded without them.
The theme of persistence—fighting for what is close to your heart despite setbacks and disappointments—reflects my own journey to achieving my dream of being a published author. The road to publication wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I never gave up. In retrospect, the detours and heartaches taught me to be a better writer and to write what brings me joy.
With the support of my editors and publishers, I’m thrilled to be able to continue writing stories with authentic aspects of my Asian culture and identity that are close to my heart.
I hope you enjoy reading Fake Dates and Mooncakes as much as I did writing it!
Make Your Own Snow-Skin Mooncakes!
Snow-Skin Mooncakes Recipe
(a) 50g cooked glutinous rice flour
(b) 50g wheat starch
(c) 150g icing sugar
(sift a, b, and c together)
(d) 65g Crisco shortening
100 ml ice-cold water (add coloring to preference)
1/2 kg lotus paste (mix peeled melon seed kernels, lightly fried)
OPTIONAL: salted egg yolk (steam for 10 mins, cool before use)
- Knead (a) to (d) lightly by hand
- Dig a well in the middle of mixture, pour in ice-cold water gradually and mix well
- Wrap with cling wrap, rest dough for at least 1/2 hour in fridge
- Roll dough into circles and fill with lotus seed paste in middle
- Dust your mold with cooked glutinous rice flour before pressing dough ball inside so it will not stick
Weight of paste + egg yolk (if added) = about 80%
Weight of outer skin = about 20%