Ginger Root Pizza

28Sep09

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Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale, or “Shoh-ga” in Japanese) appears in Japanese cuisine in many forms, but I’d always thought of it as an ingredient that worked its magic in the background, seldom– if ever– in the foreground of a dish, and certainly not as the star of the show.

My awareness of ginger root began to change during the eight years I lived in Osaka, which has a very distinct food culture in which ginger often has a showy role. If any one dish jolted me out of the view that ginger was meant to stay in the background, it was large slices of beni shoga (bright red pickled ginger) fried up as tempura, something I haven’t seen anywhere but in Osaka.

Now, believe it or not, this brings me to the subject of Pizza. Pizza is not something I’ve ever been terribly fond of. But recently, several of my friends blogged pizza recipes that reminded me that pizza didn’t have to have tomato sauce on it.

After a lot of experimentation, I came up with a pizza showcasing ginger that I’ve decided is a keeper. I mixed and kneaded the pizza crust dough in my bread baker, and then finished it up by hand. I like a very thin crispy crust, and that’s what I aimed for, but with only partial success. I won’t go into detail about that here. I’ll just tell you what toppings I used.

topping ingredients:

  • a LOT of fresh shiitake mushroom caps, sliced and cooked very briefly in oil
  • pork belly, simmered with green tea leaves, ginger, garlic, fennel seeds, and a bit of soy sauce till tender, then diced.
  • fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced in broad strips, then deep fried for about 1 minute
  • garlic cloves, crushed and deep fried for about 1 minute
  • pesto sauce
  • shredded mozzarella cheese

When the pizza dough is ready for the toppings, drizzle commercial pesto sauce (or try my shiso walnut pesto) over it and scatter the shiitake slices, crushed fried garlic pieces, fried ginger slices, and cubed pork over the sauce. Cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake in hot oven till crust is crispy and cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.

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I love the bold flavor that fried sliced ginger brings to a pizza topping! And in combination with shiitake and pork…. well, what more needs to be said?

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