Japan's Squid Ink Pizza Adds A Briny Taste To Every Bite

Is there anyone who doesn't love pizza? Even though pizza originated in Naples, Italy, travel anywhere in the world, and you'll see some iteration of the dish. In Japan, pizza is considered a high-end gourmet meal, as opposed to a grab-and-go option. Their topping options are a little more unique than the typical red sauce, cheese, and pepperoni. One of the popular but unusual options is a squid ink pizza. In Japan, seafood is a staple ingredient, so it shouldn't be surprising that seafood is incorporated into pizzas. Instead of just putting seafood on top, squid ink is used as the base for the pizza. 

The black squid ink is often mixed with tomato sauce and topped with the actual squid meat. The uniquely briny-flavored ink pairs well with the tomato sauce since the acidic tomato mellows any fishy flavor. If you're worried squid ink tastes overly fishy, you'd be happy to know it tastes better than you think. Many people think it has the saltiness and brininess of oysters or like the sea. Squid ink adds an umami flavor that boosts the overall seafood flavor of the dish. 

Pair your squid ink with seafood

In Japan, squid ink is called Ikasumi, and its use isn't limited to pizza. Much like the name suggests, squid ink is the jet black ink released by squid when they sense danger or predators. While it may be useful to the squid for protection, there are several culinary uses for squid ink. If you've ever dined at a Mediterranean restaurant and noticed a plate of black pasta, you've seen just one of the foods that can be made with squid ink. It may seem like squid ink is one of the newer haute cuisine trends, but it has been used for centuries. We can thank Sicily, Italy for reportedly being among the first to use cuttlefish ink to make Spaghetti al nero di seppie.

In Japan, squid ink pizza can refer to the sauce or the crust. If making pizza yourself or spending a pretty penny at a restaurant isn't an option, you can find frozen squid ink pizza in Japan. Ishigama Kobo created a frozen pizza with squid ink sauce that can be heated in a toaster oven. The squid ink sauce gives the pizza a dark black color but adds a hint of seafood flavor. To enhance the seafood flavor, the pizza is topped with pieces of squid. 

How to make squid ink pizza

When making squid ink pizza, the ratio of ink to dough needs to be correct so that it tastes good when finished. A basic pizza dough made with yeast, flour, sugar, and water is enhanced with two tablespoons of squid ink. It seems like a small amount, but two tablespoons are enough to color the dough jet black but not overpower it. Just like a classic pizza dough recipe, the squid ink dough is rested before being rolled out and smothered with sauce and toppings.

Since squid ink is from the sea, it pairs well with seafood and well as acidic and sweet tomatoes, lemon, and garlic. Many squid ink pizzas are topped with squid, but that isn't the only option. If you like a little heat, adding some chili flakes or fresh chiles to the sauce will pair well with the squid ink. Instead of typical pizza cheeses like mozzarella, parmesan, or Pecorino-Romano will make a better choice. 

If you're still skeptical about eating squid ink, know that squid ink has amazing health benefits. Some benefits include possibly lowering high blood pressure and increasing your immunity.