1

The term is from 红楼梦/Dream of the Red Chamber chapter 35. I have found several translations and none is any more helpful that this: four sets of moulds for soups. I do not know what soup molds (or moulds) are in English.

These ones have a decorative purpose which one translation expresses this way:

On the top, holes were bored of the size of beans. Some resembled chrysanthemums, others plum blossom. Some were in the shape of lotus seed-cases, others like water chestnuts. They numbered in all thirty or forty kinds, and were ingeniously executed.

But I have no idea what that really means. Do such molds exist today?

4

Those molds are for making '莲叶羹' (lotus leaf soup)

Obviously, there are not any real lotus leaves in lotus leaf soup. Those molds are for making lotus leaf scented flour dough balls in the soup.

Since the family in the novel was fabulously wealthy, they used silver molds instead of wooden molds (silver is expensive, and it turns black when in contact with poison).

中国·海阳- 民俗文化

还记得《红楼梦》里宝玉挨打后要喝小荷叶莲蓬汤的章节吗?“薛姨妈先接过来瞧时,原来是个小匣子,里面装着四付明光烁亮银模子,都有一尺多长,一寸见方。

汤模子 (soup molds)

[汤模子

莲叶羹模子

《红楼梦》里的人夏天都在吃什么?

这是去年贵妃贾元春归省时吃过的一道汤菜——莲叶羹,需用[银质汤模子(silver soup mold)]将湿面皮扎制出豆子大小的若干花型,再配以好汤 烧制,原文中说要“借点新荷叶的清香”,故名莲叶羹。

Translation:

Lotus soup -- need to use silver soup mold to make moist dough into number of lotus leaf scented, bean sized flower pattern. Matched with a good soup. The original text wrote: "borrow the new lotus leaf fragrance", hence the name of lotus leaf soup.

莲叶羹 (lotus leaf soup)

莲叶羹

  • For the price of four foot-long, inch-wide silver bars, it was probably enough to buy a house at that period. – Tang Ho May 3 '17 at 23:20

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