Last week I mentioned the sometimes meandering road that inspiration follows, as the palate sparks little bouts of obsession. This week is yet another example of this. Yes, I’ve been obsessing a bit on Korean flavors, and posted a recipe for lettuce wraps that also featured Gochujang and Kimchi a few weeks ago. I also took a little trip into the current rebirth of interest in fermented foods.
But this week, I’ve been working on a pizza dough recipe for a pizza class, and enjoying the dozen ears of old-style golden sweet corn that I bought from a local farmer. It seems that a growing number of local farmers have switched over to new GMO sweet corn seeds, and I took it upon myself to ask a bunch of the farmers selling corn at my market whether they were going over to the dark side.
It took me a bit of courage to do this, because I hate to start a fight with a hard working farmer first thing in the morning. But luckily, I got good news from the first four that I asked. They were staying true to their commitment to honest, local food, and had stuck with the non-GMO corn they had been growing. And as a bonus, I met one who was growing some nostalgic corn, a variety from before the supersweets came along. This is the kind of corn some of us remember from the olden days, back when there was as much corn flavor as there was sugar in every bite.
So, if you need a reason to ask a farmer a question, there you go. It was all for the good.
After eating some roasted on the grill and some boiled and slathered with avocado, it was time to get a little creative with the remaining three ears. So I decided to use a couple of pizza crusts to make a Korean flavored corn pizza, with creamy cashew cheese on top.
It was a marvelous confluence of flavors, coming together at the end of a hot, hard working week, with enough spice to slap me awake and enough sweet corn to keep me in full on summer celebration.
Korean-Style Corn and Cashew Cheese Pizza
This is a two day project of you use this crust- its an easy refrigerator dough that needs to chill and slowly develop for a day, then you bring it to room temp to use. It’s one I got from Peter Reinhart, probably with some slight variations over time. You only need two for this, use the third for another pizza, a flatbread on the grill, or calzones.
Three Pizza Crusts:
2 3/4 cups unbleached flour, or a mix of white and wheat
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon agave
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons water
Mix the dry ingredients, then stir the oil and agave into the water and stir in. Mix well. Cut the soft dough into three pieces, oil your hands, and tuck and turn the dough to make rounds. If it’s just too soft and tacky, work in some flour, but it should be soft dough. Let them rest for five minutes, do the tuck and turn again, and repeat in five. Put on an oiled pan or a storage tub and cover, chill overnight.
1 cup raw cashews, soaked if time
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons gochujang (Korean chile paste)
1 tablespoon agave
1 tablespoon tamari
3 cups sweet corn, cut from 4 ears or so
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup kimchi, squeezed dry and minced
1 jalapeno, minced
Make the cashew cheese by pureeing the cashews in a blender or food processor, adding the water gradually, scraping down and repeating til creamy. Add rice vinegar and salt, mix. Scrape into a cup, reserve.
Make the sauce by stirring the tomato paste, gochujang, agave and tamari in a cup, reserve.
In a large saute pan, heat the canola oil and saute the corn over medium high heat, add the garlic as it soften and browns. It will form a crusty layer on the pan, don’t worry, it comes off easily if you soak it. When the corn is tender and browned, transfer to a bowl.
Preheat the grill.
Prep the kimchee and jalapeno, and take everything to the grill. rub an oiled paper towel on the grate, then stretch each dough bal out to a 12 inch round and place on the hot grate. Lower the heat to medium. Use a metal spatula or tongs to flip the dough as soon as it is firm enough to move. Working quickly, spread the sauce on the rounds, then cover with corn, kimchee, dollops of cashew cheese, and jalapenos. Close the grill and cook, just until the toppings are hot and the cheese gets a little brown.