Homemade Pizzas From Scratch

With so many healthy distractions around it’s easy to overlook something as standard as a kitchen.  Especially during BBQ season.  I can tell you, however, that after a decade plus of living in Korea our kitchen is far from standard.  The biggest benefit of remodeling this dump (see the before photos here) was that we could correct a lot of the “mistakes” the original designer made.  Believe it or not this kitchen used to be a separate closed-in room in the back of the house.

Besides having enough space for more than one grown human to cook in, the kitchen is also well stocked with all sorts of fun tools to help make you feel like you know what you’re doing.  You’d be surprised at what I’ve dragged back with me after my yearly visit to the States (cast iron sausage grinder for starters).  Here’s my collection of pizza tools, which although not 100% necessary, sure do make the experience infinitely more enjoyable and efficient (Butcher’s block, pizza cutter, pizza stone handle, pizza peel, pizza stone and rolling pin).

Not saying I have the best pizza in the world, but I will say it’s pretty damn tasty, always a crowd pleaser and crazy cheap compared to what the local “Italian” restaurants are charging.  Basic recipes and procedure below.  Consider it on your next visit!

Sauce
Sure, you could use spaghetti sauce, but that’s not impressing anyone.  Not to mention making it from scratch takes about five minutes and is nearly impossible to screw up.  Put these ingredients in the blender and give them a good mix before cooking it down (simmer for 45 min).  

1 can tomato sauce
2 cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 large onion (caramelized)
2 bulbs of garlic (roasted)
1 spoonful of tomato paste
1 spoonful of chopped oregano
1 spoonful of chopped basil
1 spoonful of red pepper flakes
1 spoonful of sugar
Healthy pinch of salt
Healthy pour of olive oil

Obviously the recipe is flexible so add/subtract to taste.  Roasting the garlic is also an extra, but I usually roast some to use as a pizza topping anyway and like the taste of it in the sauce.  Do yourself a favor and cut the ends off before drizzling them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, wrapping them in foil and cooking them for 35 minutes at 230 degrees.  Yum.

Dough
Every recipe for dough looks similar so don’t put too much thought into it.  The tricky part is remembering to make it in advance, preferably the night before. 

6 cups flour
2 1/3 cups water
20g salt
20g sugar
15g dry yeast
Healthy pour of olive oil

Mix it all together and let it sit, covered, in a warm place until it has time rise at least once. 

Toppings
This can be a bit labor intensive, so now would be a good time to get the rest of the team involved.  Plenty of knives and cutting boards around so give everyone a vegetable and have them start chopping while you man the stove and cook everything down.  It’s pizza so there are no rules.  Here’s my usual set-up:

Veg:  Onions, mushrooms, black olives, bell peppers, and spinach

Cheese:  Cheddar and mozzarella (mixed),  Goat cheese (separate)

Meat:  Homemade spicy Italian sausage (10,000won/250g), anchovies

 Here’s what my work station looks like~

Procedure
Once everything is organized you can start cranking out a pizza every 15 minutes.  Pizza by nature is a casual food (at least at my house!) so we usually eat while we cook.

Roll out the dough while the oven is preheating to the highest temperature possible, usually 250 degrees.  The pizza stone should be in the oven.

 

Sprinkle corn meal on the pizza peel (or dust with flour) to prevent the dough from sticking.  Gently transfer the rolled dough from the counter to the pizza peel. The dough should “slide” around on the pizza peel when you snap your wrist.  If it sticks you’re never going to get it in the oven!

Sauce the dough and add whatever toppings you want.  I usually keep it simple, never adding more than three toppings.  Do NOT add the cheese yet as it will typically burn if it’s in the oven too long.

When the oven is ready to go you simply need to slide the pizza from the peel to the stone.  Not always as easy as it looks.  It takes a couple of tries to get the hang of it.  Let the pizza cook for about 10 minutes (this will vary depending on how thick the crust is…these times are based on a thin crust).

When the pizza is nearly finished, grab the pizza stone handle and remove the pizza/stone and place it on the stove top.  Cover the pizza in cheese and return it to the oven for a couple of minutes.  When the cheese is melted it’s ready to eat.  Slide the pizza off of the pizza stone directly onto the butcher’s block, slice and eat while you start prepping the next pizza.

Enjoy!

Spicy Italian Sausage, Onion, Yellow Peppers, Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese:

Spinach, Mushroom ,Onion, Goat Cheese:

“The Vegetarian” (Mushroom, Onion, Spinach, Bell Peppers and Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese)

“Breakfast Pizza” (Homemade American Breakfast Sausage (sage), Onions, Sunny-Side Up Egg, Mozzarella/Cheddar Cheese)

“Garbage Pizza/Calzone” (Last pizza of the night…all the remaining ingredients!)

죽순 소시지 (Bamboo Shoot Sausage)

죽순 소시지 (Bamboo Shoot Sausage)
6km down the road (at the 고서 intersection) there is an appropriately named grocery store called ‘Local Food’ offering all the best and freshest foods the local farmers have to offer.  Bamboo alcohol, free range eggs and volume 10 kimches and namuls are all standard goods for sale.  The bamboo shoot sausage however, isn’t something I’ve seen before and honestly bought strictly for the novelty of the photo.  
The novelty obviously stemming from the fact that bamboo is EVERYWHERE around Damyang and the locals try their best to exploit it in every way possible.  These particular bamboo shoots (죽순) are no joke though…they’re expensive and people come from all over to try and poach them from the local forests.  I “chased off” at least two poachers this summer from our front yard.  They also grow extremely fast so you have to pick them at the right time.  This photo shows a bamboo shoot that grew 230cm in a week!
I clearly misjudged the sausage though.  They were delicious.  And as someone that routinely makes sausage, I can honestly say there were made by someone who knows what they are doing (natural casing and all).  At 7,500 for five they’re definitely pricier than what they have at the nearest Home Plus, but worth every won.