Story and photos by Brandon Matzek
As I pull the first slice of Kimchi and Bacon Pizza from its huddling circle of steaming-hot brethren, I think to myself, "Perhaps I should wait until this cools down a bit."
But restraint is something I can rarely exercise when pizza is involved. I've learned this about myself through years of making homemade pizza.
Originating from my grandmother's recipe, the process outlined below is easy to follow and allows for unbounded variation. Aside from a pizza pan, no special equipment is needed. Start with store-bought pizza dough, olive oil, kosher salt, grated mozzarella and canned tomato sauce. After that, the toppings are up to you.
When I'm feeling like a Plain Jane, I'll finish my pizza with a sprinkling of dried oregano, basil, black pepper and Parmesan cheese. When I'm feeling more adventurous, I'll top it with cooked sausage and peppers, sliced prosciutto and asparagus spears, or sautéed spinach and fried eggs.
Or, kimchi and bacon.
After a few uninspired blows to cool the slice just pulled from oven, I chomp down. My taste buds are instantly ignited with an array of flavors and textures. Kimchi, a spicy Korean condiment made with fermented vegetables, is the star attraction of this dish. Readily available at Whole Foods, Zion Market or a number of farmers markets, kimchi lends a salty-sharp bite that fuses with the tomato sauce as the pizza cooks in the oven.
Succulent, crispy bacon and melty mozzarella cheese round out the flavors, while sliced scallions provide freshness. Despite my burned mouth, I proceed to consume almost the entire pizza.
1 ball store-bought pizza dough
Freshly grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
Organic tomato sauce (about ½ of a 15 oz. can)
1 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped
4 strips crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
3 scallions, root ends trimmed
Form the pizza. Stretch pizza dough into a round shape large enough to fit your pizza pan. Very lightly drizzle the dough with olive oil, using your hands to spread the oil evenly. Sprinkle dough with a small pinch of kosher salt.
Add the toppings. Start with an even layer of mozzarella cheese, and then spoon the tomato sauce. Using the back of the spoon, spread the tomato sauce evenly over the cheese. (Less is more when it comes to tomato sauce.) Next, sprinkle chopped kimchi and crumbled bacon over the pizza. Thinly slice white and light green parts of each scallion and scatter on the pizza. Thinly slice remaining dark green stalks on a bias and reserve.
Cook the pizza. Transfer pizza to the preheated oven and cook until the crust is golden brown (about 11 - 13 minutes). Remove pizza from the oven and let cool for a few moments before serving.
Serve. Finish with a sprinkling of sliced scallion greens. Cut pizza into even slices and serve hot. (A little too hot, in my case.)