Layered mushroom tteok cake with white tteok and ricotta cheese. Garnish of parmesan crisp and beet and broccoli sprouts.

Last Friday I learned that the deadline for entering the Korean rice cake (tteok) competition at end of May was the following day. So that very evening, I made a tteok cake with the ingredients I had on hand: soy marinated shittake mushrooms and homemade ricotta cheese.  With only a little bit of rice flour I had in the freezer, I made this mini-cake using paper cups… weighing ingredients, sifting, steaming and playing until the wee hours of the evening.

My mom thought I was crazy for thinking of putting mushrooms into tteok, but I wanted a savory dish that could partner with cheese as an appetizer dish.  I also already had the idea of using parmesan crisp as a garnish…which I must say was pretty easy even using a fry pan.

I was discouraged with my first attempts – it tasted dry and horrible and wasn’t even brown!  A little more playing, and I was actually surprised that I ended up with a real prototype!  It could use more refinement but not bad for first try.

Making parmesan crisp. Melt a little mound of grated parmesan cheese on a frying pan until it bubbles. Then peel it off gently and cool to any shape you like.

This is super savory shittake mushrooms which have been marinated in a sweet soy sauce and boiled fish stock. A umami-packed profile with deep mushroom flavour.

Homemade ricotta cheese. It is absolutely the easiest cheese you can possibly make at home. I used a 3-ingredient recipe: whole milk, a little lemon juice and vinegar. That's it!

Experimental mushroom tteok cakes in bamboo steamer.