November 18, 2012

Meatily Meatless Umami Pesto Pie

Whenever Ashley and I get to planning out the toppings for our next pies, my knee jerk reaction always is to grab some cured meats, hearty cheeses, and potatoes (Yes, potatoes - thinly sliced, and crisped up on a pie, they are wonderful, but we'll explore that on a further post) and get down whipping up that stick to your ribs, punch of meaty pleasure type of pizza that I inevitably feel I need.
Ashley then proceeds to pump the brakes....

There are certain things that Ashley doesn't need on a pizza (meat), and certain things that I feel I just got to have (meatiness) in order to feel that satisfaction. The realization that meatiness on a pie doesn't have to equal meat on a pie brought about the creation of the following pizza delight. 

Enter the sensation of umami. Umami is the fifth taste, the taste of savory. A meaty, saliva inducing sense of deliciousness.  Tomatoes, mushrooms, soy sauce, and parmesan cheese are all food items known for having high amounts of this flavor. After hearing about a burger joint called Umami burger where they top their signature burger with ingredients high in Umami flavor, I knew the same treatment could be done for a pizza to induce a sense of meatiness.

I chose to do a mushroom Umami pesto to spread out as the foundation of this pizza.  I took: 

1 cup oven-roasted shitake mushrooms
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons bonito flakes
1 tablespoon yellow miso
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil

All this excitement went into the food processor; pulsed it until it looked like pesto. Next, I spread it out on our par-baked crust (Ashley and I like to pre-bake the crust in order to keep them crispy), and topped with some fresh mozzarella. Then I topped with some diced sun-dried tomatoes (you could use regular tomatoes, but I figure the dried variety would have a more concentrated Umami flavor), shaves of parmesan cheese, some bonito flakes (bonito flakes are shavings of dried smoked jackfish, and are a japanese staple seasoning. The taste and smell a bit like smoked salmon. On their own, they taste fishy, but in dishes they  add a nice smoked savory note, and very little fishiness. Try em.), and a bit of garlic.

This pie delight came out of the oven smoky, salty, melty, and mighty meatily delicious!  While this pie did technically have meat on it, the bonito flakes, I would hardly call small smoky shavings of fish something that a carnivore would sit there salivating over, and thus I'd call this pie a victory for those looking for hearty meatless fare.  Plus, Ashley chomped down pretty hard on it too.  Although I will say that if eating something that use to be alive, or that is still moving gets you squeamish, I would advise not looking closely at this pizza until it's cooled down a bit...