I’m not simply putting kimchi on top of a pizza and calling it a Kimchi Pizza in this recipe. Nope. I love that, but I want more. I’m talking the works. The pizza sauce has kimchi incorporated into it AND I use kimchi as a topping. I have so much love for this Kimchi Pizza but I have to admit the sauce is the star. It’s amazing and so versatile (I’m turning it into a Tomato Vodka Cream Sauce next week-just to let you know).
Kimchi was on my mind one day (I had just finished making a batch) when I clicked on a link I saw on Twitter from Food and Wine about how to make a kimchi marinara sauce. That led me to wonder what the difference is between marinara sauce and pizza sauce, which led me to this Serious Eats article and recipe by Kenji López-Alt on New York style pizza sauce. Which led me to (finally) make a pizza sauce I love by combining the techniques from both recipes.
The kimchi results in a really layered and smoky flavor that reminds me of fire-roasted tomatoes. I made two different pizzas with it. The first is what I had planned for the blog. I wanted to use burrata cheese, kimchi, some kimchi pickled asparagus (asparagus pickled in a kimchi seasoned cucumber brine), fresh asparagus, and sliced radishes. It’s the one I photographed. And it was delicious. The pizza sauce adds some savory and spicy heat while the veggies provide a light freshness.
The second pizza I didn’t take pictures of because I didn’t think it was going to taste that good. I rolled out the crust thinner then I normally do and I thought the pepperoni would compete too much with the sauce. I used burrata cheese again but also shredded some sharp cheddar cheese on top of everything. I wanted to be good and like the veggie one better but I kept going back for the pepperoni. The extra thin crust, the pepperoni grease, and extra cheddar cheese addition really brought all the flavors together and the sauce…the sauce tasted even better. I felt like I had just bought a slice at a pizzeria at 2 o’clock in the morning after bar hopping. Which is the best feeling.
So experiment with the toppings: do your own thing. Pizza is great for using your leftover veggies (or even fruit) that are about to go bad. Sometimes the combos you don’t think are going to work end up being your new favorites.
I’m still in the hospital and the only tube they’ve gotten rid of is the oxygen. Here’s a breakdown of the events so far:
- Thursday I spent the day chugging the colyte prep until 11:30 pm and then I chugged 48 ounces of water. I waited until 12 am to take a shower and then set an alarm for an hour later to wipe myself down with special pre-surgery wipes (they left me feeling very sticky).
- I didn’t get much sleep after that because the colyte prep finally kicked in.
- My mom and dad drove me to Walnut Creek at 4:30 am on Friday, while I sat concentrating really hard on not having to go to the bathroom.
- I got checked into what they called the Recovery Room, where they prepared me for surgery and I got to meet everyone who was going to be in the operating room working on me. This is where it started to get hectic. There were 19 surgeries scheduled for that day. It was very high energy and as I was rolled into my operating room I could definitely see how surgeons are sometimes considered the rock stars of the medical world. That’s about all I remember.
- The first incision was at 9:00 am and the surgery lasted until 2:00 pm. I didn’t wake up until 3:30 pm which is when I found out they had to give me a stoma. My surgeon didn’t want to risk doing the whole surgery at once with the amount of prednisone I was on. This means that in 2 to 4 months I will be undergoing another, shorter, surgery to reattach everything together.
- I’m in a lot of pain. There’s no way around it. Monday was the first day where I was able to sit up and type but I barely got anything done before I started to get tired again. Later things slid more downhill. They decided to try to take the catheter out but I couldn’t go pee. Only blood was coming out. My bladder got really big and it set off all my other surgery aches and pains. My nurse put the catheter back in pronto and I spent the rest of the day in agony. I finally gave in and took some narcotics to help with the pain. I also had to get a new IV put in because my hand had started to swell up.
- #1 Lesson Learned: I highly underestimated how hard recovery was going to be.
Kimchi Pizza Sauce
- 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes packed in juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 cup diced napa cabbage kimchi
- pinch of Kosher salt
- 1 yellow onion peeled and sliced half
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- Favorite pizza crust
- Burrata cheese
- Napa cabbage kimchi
- Chopped asparagus or chopped pickled asparagus kimchi
- Sliced cherry radishes
Kimchi Pizza Sauce
In a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and butter and heat on medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the garlic, kimchi, and pinch of salt and cook until soft and golden (about 5 minutes).
Add tomatoes and sugar and stir. Blend with an immersion blender until the sauce is still slightly chunky but the whole tomatoes are mostly broken up. Add the onion halves and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook for 1 hour.
Discard onion halves. Puree the rest together using an immersion blender until the desired consistency is reached (or transfer everything to a food processor or blender to puree). Season with 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste).
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whatever pizza crust you are using, use your fingers to press little dimples all throughout the rolled out crust. Use a pastry brush to brush olive oil across the surface. Sprinkle with Kosher salt.
Spread a 1/2 to 1 cup of the Kimchi Pizza Sauce on the crust (just enough to create a thin layer across the crust-you don't want it too heavy). How much you use will depend on how big your pizza crust is too.
Place the burrata on top of the pizza sauce. I split the balls apart with my hands and dotted them across the pizza. The burrata I bought came with 8 balls so I used 4 for each pizza.
Top with some napa cabbage kimchi, pickled or fresh asparagus, and sliced radishes.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the crust is golden and the cheese is starting to bubble and get golden spots.
You can make the Kimchi Pizza Sauce on a different day to cut down the time you spend in the kitchen. It makes about 3.5 to 4 cups.
If you don't have an immersion blender then puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender before you add them to the saucepan with the kimchi.
Use whatever toppings you want or what you have in your fridge that is about to go bad.
I also made another pizza with burrata, pepperoni, and some shredded sharp cheddar cheese that was really really good (it was actually my favorite) if you want to try a meaty version.
I used cubed radish kimchi and regular napa cabbage kimchi but I actually ended up picking the cubed radish kimchi off. The flavor overpowered everything else.