Saturday, June 18, 2016

Tuna Sashimi Pizza on Scallion Pancakes

June 17 marks my one month blogiversary. How has it only been one month? I love writing about my culinary adventures and have come to appreciate how deeply connected people are to the foods they eat. Every dish is a story, an emotion, a memory. I especially enjoy reliving my childhood through cooking. Earlier this week, for example, I made tuna sashimi pizza, a treasured dish from my upbringing at the Jersey Shore.

I was first introduced to tuna pizza at Yumi, one of my favorite Japanese restaurants from back home. My experiences there have largely influenced my current eating habits - lots of fish and sushi. Yes, it's true. Yumi is where I had my metamorphosis from young boy to sushi crazed, Juicy-Couture-wearing Jewish American Pri...err, I mean man...My second Bar Mitzvah, so to speak. In other words, Yumi's tuna pizza is basically a gateway food that has led me down a dangerous gastronomical path (I offer the photos below into evidence: Omakase at Sushi Yasuda).

I remember Sunday night family dinners at Yumi. We'd order one tuna pizza "for the table" and fought to the death over the last pieces. Over time, we needed two, then three...four...orders of tuna pizza "for the table." Eventually, we realized we needed a pizza for each of us. "Six orders of tuna pizza, please...for the table..." Totally reasonable. What made this appetizer so addicting was the warm, flaky scallion pancake crust topped with sliced tuna sashimi and drizzled with several Japanese sauces.

I recreated the dish by modifying chef Morimoto's signature tuna pizza recipe. The tuna is topped with cherry tomatoes, Kalamata olives, red onion, and anchovy aioli. I substituted the original tortilla base with a homemade scallion pancake crust. I admittedly dislike baking...probably because my mom demonized it growing up (she hated a messy kitchen)...but this is worth it! Also, if you can find quail eggs, top the pizza with a couple of egg yolks.

Tips/Tricks to Making the Perfect Tuna Sashimi Pizza
  • Make the dough first and do your other prep (mise en place) as the dough rests
  • All prep should be done prior to cooking the pancakes! It's best to serve the pancakes warm! 
  • Refer to my previous post on sashimi grade fish 
  • I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil for cooking as it's healthier 
    • Olive oil has a low smoke point, so watch closely. Adjust temp as needed.
    • Before adding oil to the pan, heat the pan on high heat until hot. Then pour in the oil and heat till shimmering (should take just a few seconds). Add pancake immediately.
  • Drizzle the aioli onto pizza using a pasty bag or a makeshift one made from plastic zip bags with a tiny piece of corner cut off .
  • Try new toppings/sauce combos. Salmon pizza sounds amazing. So does adding Sriracha!
  • If you do not have a food processor for aioli, you can (theoretically) use an old fashion whisk.
    • As with the food processor, whisk mixture rigorously while slowly pouring in oil. Continue till thickened.  
  • Find quail eggs! And get extra because they break. 
    • To open, try removing the top part of the shell with a serrated knife.
    • Pour egg onto hand. Remove whites. Place each yolk in its own small prep bowl.

Tuna Sashimi Pizza Ingredients: 
  • Scallion pancakes (recipe below)
  • 18-20 ounces sashimi grade tuna, thinly sliced (slice against the grain)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced
  • Red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • Cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise (about 1/2 cup)
  • Kalamata olives, pitted and thickly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • Anchovy aioli (recipe follows)
  • Soy sauce 
  • Cilantro, sprouts, or microgreens for garnish
  • Quail eggs, yolks only (optional as topping)
Serves 4 as an entree or 8 as appetizers. (Recipe makes 4 pizzas)

Scallion Pancake Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Enough olive oil for frying (may use vegetable oil if concerned about smoke) and for brushing
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 bunch scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced or chopped

Anchovy Aioli Ingredients: 
  • 2 egg yolks (chicken eggs)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of anchovy paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tuna Sashimi Pizza on Scallion Pancakes Recipe:

For the Scallion Pancakes:
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

Mix the flour with water until a smooth dough is formed. Kneed the dough until it's very elastic (the dough should bounce back quickly when poked). Coat the dough ball lightly with olive oil, cover with a damp towel, and allow to rest while you prep the rest of the meal (or minimum of 30 minutes).

Divide the dough into two equal parts. Follow the steps below for each of the dough halves.

Roll out one of the dough halves into a thin rectangle (roughly 9 x 12 inches). Brush with olive oil. Sprinkle evenly with scallions and a generous amount of kosher salt.

Starting from the long end, tightly roll the dough to form a long log. Cut the log into two equal parts. Coil each half around itself to form dough bundles. Rest for at least 15 minutes. Be sure the aioli is made and pizza toppings prepped before moving on to the final step.

Take one of the rested dough bundles and flatten it with your hands or a rolling pin into a round, flat pancake about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Place a 10 inch frying pan on high heat. Once pan is hot, add enough oil (olive vs vegetable) to thinly coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil shimmers (should happen quickly), immediately throw in a pancake. Allow each side to cook for about 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you make the other pancakes.

For the Anchovy Aioli:
Combine egg yolks, white wine vinegar, lemon juice, anchovy paste, and soy sauce into a food processor with an emulsifying blade.

With the machine running, slowly pour olive oil through the feed tube. The ingredients should thicken into a mayonnaise-like consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon mixture into a pastry bag (or makeshift version).

For the Tuna Pizza: (Assemble immediately prior to serving)
Take a scallion pancake and cover with sliced tuna. Add jalapeño, olives, onions, and tomatoes to taste. Drizzle generously with the anchovy aioli, a pinch of kosher salt, and a few dashes of soy sauce. Garnish with the cilantro or microgreens. Optional, but highly recommended: Carefully pour quail egg yolks over the pizza. Voilà!  


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