Did I just throw kimchi on a Stouffer’s Pizza? Of course not. A few years ago, I heard about this pizza joint in Queens serving kimchi pizza. Since then, I’ve been dying to visit, but the opportunity never came up. I tried Googling the place (T.J.’s Pizzeria and Restaurant) and it apparently closed down recently. I wonder if it was the pungent odor of kimchi that drove customers away?
Last year, my DH and I visited Zante Pizza and Indian Cuisine in Bernal Heights. We were in the neighborhood and we really wanted to try the Indian pizza that they were famous for. It was loaded with toppings, but surprisingly the flavors weren’t overwhelming as I expected them to be and the crust held up pretty well (the owner worked in a pizzeria in Queens for 4 years before taking over Zante’s). This also got me thinking about kimchi pizza again!
I wanted to see if I could come up with a combination of toppings that would justify the “kimchi pizza” label. I needed it to be more than just a pepperoni and cheese pie smothered in fermented cabbage. I thought about the toppings. The natural choice was pork since the pork and kimchi pairing is a classic combination. And for kicks, I also threw on some fried bacon bits which added nice salty, smoky accents that complemented the sweetness of the ground pork. As tempting as it is, you don’t want to go nuts with the bacon since you don’t want it to get too salty. No worries, save some for snacking while the pizza’s cooking.
And while we all know that the key to a really good pizza is the crust, I was too pressed for time to deal with real pizza dough and bought a pre-made 12-inch pizza crust from Whole Foods. It wasn’t too bad, but it did feel more like a flatbread pizza. I know, I know…a “real” crust would have added so much more. We will have a follow up entry the next time I make pizza! I was also deliberating whether to use olive oil or a red sauce on the crust before loading on the toppings. I decided that the pizza needed some “moisture” (for lack of a better word) to hold everything together. I used some leftover Rao’s Marinara Sauce since it is pretty mild and not so sweet and tangy. Besides, it was the only tomato sauce in the house. Nothing wrong with improvising!
Pizza Dough - Use you favorite recipe. We typically use the recipe from The New Basics Cookbook.
Toppings – Should be more than enough for a 12-inch pizza
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 pound dry rub smoked Applewood bacon, cut in strips cross-wise in the style of lardons and fried
1 cup kimchi, chopped, rinsed, and squeezed of as much liquid as possible
2 green onion stalks, thinly sliced
1/2 to 1 cup your favorite red sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
Move the rack to the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, throw it in now.
In a bowl, combine the ground pork, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, and garlic powder. Heat a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil in fry pan over medium high heat. Add the pork and cook until it is ‘just cooked’. Set aside.
Spread a light coating of tomato sauce on the crust. I find it’s easiest to use a ladle. Pour a little sauce in the center of the crust and in a spiraling pattern, spread the sauce using the back of the ladle. Distribute and layer toppings in this order – meats, cheese, kimchi and green onions. Carefully slide the pizza onto the stone. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cook for about 12-15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Let rest for about 5 minutes before cutting.
I’m going to try a calzone version of this next time!
Toppings – save some for munching while waiting for the pizza to cook!
Pizza’s all dressed up and ready to go into the oven.
Note the kimchi on top…it gets a nice texture when cooked.