Sunday, March 25, 2007

thoughts on salmon, pizza, and salmon pizza

Even us allergic-to-milk-girls love pizza. I usually make it/buy it with thick crust, extra sauce, black olives, mushrooms, artichokes, and fresh basil. In college, Papa Johns was the go-to pizza for my food-happy roommates and I. Either that, or Zachary's.....Mmmmm, Zachary's.

Zachary's is an amazing place. It can be found near the University of Arizona campus, in a non-descript building, near a deserted lot, with a sign that simply says"Zachary's." There is no indication whatsoever that it is a restaurant. Of course, as it always is with "secret" spots, it is constantly packed. People are lined up outside every night of the week to enjoy the varied beers on tap and relish some of the best pizza I've ever been fortunate enough to taste. The crust is thick, crunchy, and rich with olive oil, the toppings perfect, the sauce sublime. (And, as I'm told, the cheese is pretty fantastic too). Every time I go to Tucson, Zachary's is a must visit.

The pizzas I usually make at home are an effort to recreate a Zach's experience. I pull out the veggies, make a hearty tomato sauce, and roll the dough extra thick. But my most recent pizza experiment ventured outside of my normal red sauce laden creation.

I used smoked salmon. Yes, smoked salmon. On the pizza (!)

This is odd for more than one reason. First, obviously, smoked salmon is not what one would call a traditional pizza topping. And two, well, there is a bit of a story behind me and smoked salmon. Generally, I adore it. It is my favorite thing to order when out to breakfast -- I don't trust any of the hot cereals, waffles, pancakes, french toast, or pastries because they are likely saturated with dairy. I despise eggs, so all of the egg dishes are out. That leaves me with either dry toast or a bagel with smoked salmon. 10 times out of 10, I choose the bagel with smoked salmon.

However, this tendency to favor the delectable smokey fish left me quite miserable last summer. I was on a fancy schmancy cruise in the South Pacific with some good friends, and over-indulged on smoked salmon in a flamboyant way. I either had it for breakfast, on my salad at lunch, or as an appetizer before dinner every. single. day. I ate copious amount of smoked salmon for 13 days in a row. Needless to say, by the end of the trip, I never wanted to see a smoked fish again for the rest of my life. Then, as was my luck, I fell prey to Tiki's Revenge on the final morning of the cruise. Remembering each bite of smoked salmon, I proceeded to be ill for the next 24 hours. It wasn't the salmon's fault, but it was the last thing I had eaten, so it was blamed.

I've only eaten it a few times since last August. Seriously.

But, last week, it looked appealing again for the first time in months. In in shock, I picked up a package of the rosy red fish and let it linger in my refrigerator for a few days while I debated on how to use it.

One night, I got home from work late, saw the smoked salmon and a hunk of dough from Trader Joes and decided to experiment. I'd seen something similar on a menu before, so I can't claim that this was entirely my idea, but I gave it a few adjustments to make it my own.

I had some leftover soy sour cream from the cream sauce for the pasta from earlier in the week, and all of the other ingredients were on hand. Soon we were devouring one of the tastiest pizzas we had ever enjoyed -- it was divine. It may not replace the Zach's pizzas of my college years, but it certainly is a challenger. Salty capers, smokey fish, rich and tangy sour cream, sharp onions, and doughy crust combine to form a unique, yet fabulous pizza. Break out of your pizza comfort zone and give it a try -- you won't regret it, I promise!

Here is the very simple recipe:

Smoked Salmon Pizza -- serves 4


--lump of pizza dough, homemade or from Trader Joes , enough for one pie
--1/2 cup sour cream (soy or dairy), or more
--4 oz smoked salmon, torn into big pieces
--1/4 cup thinly slice onions
--2 tablespoons capers

--juice of 1/2 lemon

-- salt and pepper to taste


1) Roll the dough out into a circle, brush with olive oil, and bake according to directions (around 12 minutes)

2) Remove it from the oven, smear sour cream over the top, lay pieces of salmon on the sour cream, scatter onions and capers over the salmon, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste, and squeeze a lemon over all.

To Serve:

Slice and serve with salad. Lick your lips and cut another piece.


Thinly sliced ripe tomatoes on top of the salmon would be a delicious addition.

As served!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is probably my favorite post thus far. It has "left over sour cream", a quality "Tiki's revenge" anecdote, and the direct order to "lick your lips."
Perhaps someday you will experience the birthplace of pizza and, from then on, will be attempting to recreate a Napoli experience. Ciao from Italia! Jason