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.

Turnip wrapped fresh vegetable rolls. The thinly sliced Korean turnip is soaked in brine for 30 minutes to get soft, pliable sheets.

Korean Radish Wrapped Fresh Salad Rolls

I love the idea of salad rolls, very similar to fresh thai or vietnamese rolls.  This is a Korean fusion recipe from our alcohol cooking class – this appetizer was matched with sweet pumpkin makgeolli.  I was nearly appalled by the combination of yellow mustard and peanut butter, but in the end, it tasted good.

Serves 4-6

  • 250g Korean radish, large, about 20cm diameter
  • 1/2 of each red, yellow and green sweet bell pepper
  • cucumber, peeled
  • 1/2 pack of sprouts
  • sliced ham

for brine solution:

  • combine 2 cup water, 2 tsp sea salt, 6 Tbsp vinegar, 8 Tbsp sugar.

for peanut dipping sauce:

  • combine 1 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter, 1 1/2  Tbsp mayonnaise, 1/3 Tbsp mustard, 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice, 1/2 Tbsp corn syrup, 1/3 Tbsp sugar, 1/3 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds.

Thinly slice the radish, about 0.2cm thickness.  Mandoline would be best tool for this, but we did it by hand.  Soak the sliced turnip in the brine for at least 20 minutes.  Drain, and pat dry.

Cut the vegetables and ham about 0.2cm thickness and 5cm length.

Wrap the vegetable, ham and sprouts with the turnip sheets.  Serve with peanut dipping sauce.

Making sweet pumpkin makgeolli at class. The colour is so intensely yellow, just from the pumpkin.

This is the plastic container of sweet potato makgeolli I took home to ferment. This is day 4 - the clear liquid top layer will get larger and larger as the natural yeast ferments the sugar into alcohol. At this stage you can hear it bubbling like it's's the CO2 gas being released!