It resembles a pizza, but I wouldn’t be so presumptuous as to call it one. This flatbread is topped with flavours from North-East Asia. The natto, kimchi, and yuzu kosho bring complex fermented notes to complement the classic tomato and cheese.
These three key ingredients, the natto, kimchi, and yuzu kosho, are something of an acquired taste. They are each so interesting, their history, how they are made, and of course, how they taste. Acquire a taste for these amazing foods. And then after trying this asian flatbread, try this soba salad with natto and kimchi.
Natto, from Japan, is whole cooked soybeans that have been fermented using a bacterial starter. When the whole process is complete, they become quite viscous, almost slimy. Don’t let that put you off. They taste amazing mixed with some soy sauce and mustard. Read this great History of Natto at the Soyinfo Center. Not only does it taste great (once you acquire the taste!), it is also very good for you.
Yuzu kosho is a Japanese condiment, available in Asian grocery stores. It consists of yuzu (a citrus fruit) and chillis mashed with salt and then fermented. Unlike natto and kimchi, you would not eat this on its own. But it does make a great ingredient in other dishes, giving a complex kick to a dish.
The last ingredient that may not be familiar to all is unagi, or Japanese freshwater eel. If you have a Japanese section at you local supermarket you may find it there. If not, or you want to make a vegetarian version, leave it out. I love unagi, but this flatbread works just as well without it.
All these ingredients of this asian flatbread combine to make a very interesting “pizza”!
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 tsp active yeast
- 1 tsp honey or sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups unbleached flour
- 400 g can of whole peeled tomatoes
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp Yuzu Kosho the red variety works better here
- 1/2 cup chopped kimchi
- 1/2 cup chopped unagi Japanese eel, optional, omit for the vegetarian version
- 1/2 cup natto mixed with the tsuyu and mustard that it is packaged with
- 1/2 cup grated cheese
- Chilli oil
- Whisk together the warm water, yeast, and honey in a very large bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes. Bubbles should be appearing.
- Add 1 cup of flour, 1 tsp salt, and 1 Tbsp olive oil and stir to combine.
- Add another 1/2 cup of flour and start kneading with one hand.
- Knead for around 7-10 minutes, adding an occasional sprinkle of flour to stop it sticking to your hand or bowl.
- When the dough is getting a little springy (push your finger in and the dough should rebound), form it into a ball, smear the ball and the bowl with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil.
- Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 2 or 3 hours.
- Punch down and divide into halves.
- Allow to sit for another 1 hour. Time to prepare your toppings.
- Peel the garlic.
- Blend the garlic, canned tomatoes, and yuzu kosho until smooth.
- Roll out the flatbreads to about a 3mm thickness.
- Ladle on some of the tomato base.
- Sprinkle on the natto (natto is slimy so needs some hands on attention), diced unagi (if using), diced kimchi, and top with a little grated cheese.
- Cook this flatbread like a pizza (surprise!). How long it takes to cook really depends on the oven you have available. In my recently purchased wall mounted oven, it took 10 minutes at 250 degC with the top element and fan. You will know what you need to do with your own oven.
- Use a pizza slicer to cut into serving sized pieces.
- Drizzle over some chilli oil.