An old Italian staple with a dash of Japanese science

Pizza with mozzarella, anchovies and olives
Pizza with mozzarella, anchovies and olives
Ching-He Huang

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This week’s recipe comes from Italy – and what could be more synonymous than pizza?

Sticking to tradition, I will share a somewhat basic-sounding pizza recipe.

However, the ingredients contain umami which makes it a very savoury and moreish pizza.

Umami is a Japanese word which means delicious. To a chef it means flavour and the addition of a umami-rich ingredient can make a good dish into a memorable one.

Umami was first scientifically identified in 1908 by Kikunae Ikeda, a professor at the Tokyo Imperial University.

He found that glutamate was responsible for the palatability of the broth made from kombu seaweed.

He noticed that the taste of kombu dashi was distinct from sweet, sour, bitter and salty and named it umami.

At Restaurant 27 we like to use umami as much as we can because it is a clever way of maximising flavour from meat to vegetables.

The umami factor in this week’s recipe is the natural umami found in tomatoes, anchovies, olives and parmesan.

The tomato sauce at the base of the pizza gives a rich and slightly acidic taste.

The saltiness of the anchovies will not only provide a nice fishy taste but will also act as the seasoning for the pizza.

The mozzarella and parmesan will add a creamy luxurious feeling on the palette and the basil, not umami, will just add a beautiful and aromatic sweetness.

Kevin Bingham is the chef patron of Restaurant 27 in Southsea. Call (023) 9287 6272.

PIZZA WITH MOZZARELLA, ANCHOVIES AND OLIVES (SERVES ONE)

Utensils

Round pizza tray

Knife

Rolling pin

Slice

Small saucepan

Chopping board

Ingredients per pizza

8oz bread dough, from previous recipes

Tomato sauce

1 pt tomato juice

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Pinch dried oregano

Olive oil

Pinch of salt, pepper and sugar

Toppings

10 quarter cm cubed parmesan

Half mozzarella ball

4 anchovies chopped

12 olives

8 - 10 leaves of basil

Garnish

Fresh rocket salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Method for sauce

Take saucepan, add good splash of olive oil and over a medium heat lightly brown garlic. Pour tomato juice over garlic and add oregano, salt, pepper and sugar. Reduce to approx quarter-of-a-pint and cool.

Roll out pizza dough to evenly cover pizza tray about quarter cm thick. Chef’s tip: lightly oil your tray.

Spread tomato sauce evenly over your dough leaving half-inch border. Add toppings in this order: anchovies, basil, olives, parmesan, mozzarella.

Spread topping evenly, keeping it rustic. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Place pizza tray over open flame of a hob to lightly brown underside of the base, then place under pre-heated grill until toppings bubble and blister. Approx 4-5 mins.

To serve, lightly dress the rocket with olive oil and balsamic and place on top of pizza.