Food

Pizza Goes Coastal With Mackerel, Crab and Other Seafood

Anchovies have long had a place on pizza, but the fish aren’t the only type of seafood that works atop a pie. Chefs are looking to mackerel, crab and clams to add briny, nostalgic flavors to pizza.

At Love & Salt in Manhattan Beach, chef Michael Fiorelli serves clam pie with lemon, cream, broccoli rabe, chili flakes and parsley.

"I grew up on Long Island, clamming in the bay," Fiorelli says. "Summertime was all about shellfish. I'd go out on an inner tube with my dad and come back with buckets full of them. We ate clams in every possible way. I thought this would be a great way to introduce LA to one of my fondest childhood memories."

The special was a tribute pizza in honor of Fiorelli's guest chef dinner at NYC's Pasquale Jones, home of another great clam pie.

"Of course our dough is a little different… but I think we nailed it," Fiorelli said. "We soak the clams in salt water for a minimum of 30 minutes to purge the sand and wash them again—they come in very sandy. Then we sweat garlic and shallot and add thyme, white wine and the clams. When the clams open up, we remove them and harvest the meat. The cooking liquid gets folded into whipped cream to make the base of the pizza."

This summer, Charleston’s inaugural beverage conference, BevCon, kicked off with an opening cookout featuring bites and drinks from area chefs and bartenders. Jason Stanhope of FIG and The Ordinary served a grilled mackerel pizza with fromage blanc, mustard greens, chile flakes and caramelized onions.

“I love tarte flambée, the Alsatian pizza that has cultured cream that’s a mix of crème fraîche and fromage blanc, bacon, caramelized onion and thyme,” he says. “It’s very simple but so freaking delicious, so I was trying to play off that.”

Stanhope’s version was inspired by his location.

“I get pretty fatigued on bacon sometimes, so I wanted to use something that was little bit lighter, maybe a little more nuanced, more Southeastern-seaboard in Charleston,” he says. “So I got a bunch of mackerel and we brined it and smoked it. You get that same kind of smoky, unctuous, flavor profile.”

For the dough recipe, Stanhope went to the source of one of his favorite pies.

“One of my favorite pizzas in the United States is Tandy Wilson’s pizza at City House in Nashville and I called him and begged to share his dough recipe with me,” he says. “The dough is really special, it uses all-domestic flour, which is kind of uncommon, and it’s a slow fermentation process that develops so much flavor.”

Beyond adding a local touch to the pizza, Stanhope likes to use mackerel and other trash fish, which he says are “the fish that we need to be eating if we want to eat fish for the next 10 years.”

“If you can smoke it or manipulate it to where it makes it very approachable and put it on something like a pizza, it transcends your pickiest family member to most esteemed critic,” he says. “I think that’s a victory for our oceans.”

Crab Rangoon pizza at Sunday Dinner Club Photo: Rachel Brown Kulp

At Chicago’s Sunday Dinner Club, which features monthly changing menus, Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski held a pizza series last month, which included a pan-fried crab Rangoon pizza made with crab, Zingerman’s cream cheese, scallions and sweet chili drizzle.

“We love crab Rangoon and we love fried pizza,” Kulp says. “What we’ve learned from doing fried pizza in the past—we actually take the dough and pan fry it from raw dough in a sauté pan with olive oil—is that creamy or buttery sauces are amazing on them.”

To make the crab Rangoon pizza, “we take the hot fried dough and spread what is essentially crab Rangoon mixture and it kind of softens up and gets oozy and delicious,” Kulp says. “Then we’ll make a spicy chile sauce, like a dipping sauce, and drizzle it over the pizza and shower with scallions and voila—imagine crab Rangoon filling melting into fried dough.”

Danny Bonvissuto contributed reporting.

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