Tom Yum Margherita Pizza

September 16, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Mandy Lee
  • Prep time 12 hours 10 minutes
  • Cook time 5 minutes
  • makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas
Author Notes

This profoundly fragrant tomato sauce, inspired by tom yum, the spicy and sour soup from Thailand, makes for a sultry version of the classic pizza margherita. Southeast Asian herbs like lemongrass, galangal, and makrut lime leaves integrate so incredibly well with tomatoes that I imagine if a large influx of migrants from Thailand were ever to settle in Italy (or vice versa), this pairing would be inevitable.

If you don’t already have a jar of homemade shrimp and chile oil on hand, there are many shrimp- or dried-shrimp-based chile sauces that you can find in Asian supermarkets and use as a substitute. I can’t say that every single one of them will be marvelous, but I also can’t imagine why they wouldn’t be. Alternatively, you can make your own by frying chopped dried shrimp or anchovies and red bird's-eye chile in canola oil until the chiles are crispy, then season with a bit of fish sauce.

A note on mixing dough by hand: The first part of this process is called autolysis, and it starts by mixing the flour and wet ingredients without yet adding the yeast. Autolysis maximizes the gluten formation in the dough without over-kneading, and the longer the autolysis, the more elastic and better-tasting your final result will be. You get a really great result for the amount of effort you put in. The length of autolysis can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 10 hours and beyond. For best results, start the morning before you bake your bread. Then your mixture can go through 10 hours of autolysis and you can proceed with the next step that evening. Another option is starting around 6 hours before your bedtime the night before you bake, and letting the dough sit for at least 30 minutes before moving on to the next step.

Recipe adapted with permission from The Art of Escapism Cooking: A Survival Story, with Intensely Good Flavors by Mandy Lee, published by William Morrow Cookbooks. © 2019 by Mandy Lee. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.Mandy @ Lady and pups

What You'll Need
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Tom Yum Margherita Pizza
  • Pizza Dough:
  • 1 cup (235 grams) water
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (200 grams) plain yogurt
  • 3 1/2 cups (500 grams) bread flour, plus additional flour as needed
  • 1 tablespoon (8 grams) roasted barley tea powder (roasted barley tea powderized in a spice grinder)
  • 1/3 teaspoon instant dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons (13 grams) fine sea salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for greasing
  • Tom Yum Tomato Sauce & Pizza Assembly:
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans peeled plum tomatoes
  • 3 lemongrass stalks (2 ounces/58 grams), finely sliced
  • 3 small shallots, peeled
  • 2 makrut lime leaves, with the central stem removed
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped galangal (or substitute 3 tablespoons chopped ginger)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce, plus more as desired
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon Thai shrimp paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 to 8 makrut lime leaves
  • 2 (4.5-ounce) balls fresh mozzarella
  • Pickled chiles, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Thai dried shrimp chile oil
  • Torn Thai basil or mint leaves, for serving (optional)
  1. Make the pizza dough.

    Stand mixer method: Mix water and plain yogurt together until even. In a stand mixer with dough hook attachment, add the yogurt mixture, bread flour, roasted barley tea powder, yeast, and salt. Mix on low until a cohesive dough forms, then knead on medium speed for 10 to 15 minutes, until the dough pulls away cleanly from the sides and bottom of the bowl when the machine is running, but sticks right back when the machine stops. The dough should be quite wet, smooth and shiny.

    Transfer to a lightly oiled container and let proof until doubled, then transfer into the fridge for at least 10 or up to 24 hours. (If the room is warmer than 70°F/22°C, I would let the dough do the first rise completely in the fridge.) If the dough hasn't doubled after 24 hours in the fridge, leave it in a warm place until doubled before moving on to the next step.

    By-hand method: In an 8½-cup (2-liter) bowl or container, whisk the water and the yogurt until smooth, then add the flour and barley tea powder. Stir the mixture with a large spoon until a sticky, lumpy dough forms. Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours depending on your schedule. This process is called the autolysis (see Author Notes). It betters the formation of gluten in the dough without a stand mixer.

    In a small bowl, mix the yeast with the remaining 2 teaspoons of water until the yeast has dissolved (no need to wait for it to foam). Add the yeast mixture and salt to the dough, then start folding it into the dough until evenly mixed. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

    Wet your hands to prevent sticking, and don’t worry about the extra moisture, because this dough can take it. Fold the dough with a slow and gentle motion: Cup your hand around the dough from the very bottom of the bowl, bring the dough up, and fold it over itself several times. Cover and let sit for another 30 minutes, then repeat the folding two more times.

    Cover and let proof until doubled, then transfer into the fridge for at least 10 or up to 24 hours. (If the room is warmer than 70°F/22°C, I would let the dough do the first rise completely in the fridge.) If the dough hasn't doubled after 24 hours in the fridge, leave it in a warm place until doubled before moving on to the next step.

  2. Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the best way to produce restaurant-style pizza in a home oven: One hour before serving, heat the oven with an inverted sheet pan to 500°F/260°C. After the oven is heated, move the inverted sheet pan to the upper level, a few inches below the broiler, and turn the broiler on high.

    While the oven is heating, gently scrape the dough onto a floured surface, taking care not to lose too many air bubbles. Divide the dough into two equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, fold the corners of the dough over itself from two or three different directions, then flip it over so the seam side is facing down. Transfer to a surface without flour, then cup your hands around the dough and scoop it gently toward you from a few different directions to tighten the dough.

    Transfer the dough to a large piece of lightly oiled parchment paper, generously flour the top, then cover with plastic wrap. Let proof for 1½ to 2 hours, until it has doubled again.
  3. Make the tom yum tomato sauce. In a blender, combine the tomatoes and their juices, lemongrass, shallots, makrut lime leaves, galangal, lime juice, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Blend for a couple of minutes, until extremely smooth.

    In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, Thai shrimp paste, and black pepper. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the paste has disintegrated into the oil and has slightly browned. Add the tomato mixture, mix well, and partially cover the pot with a lid. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds into a thick tomato sauce. Season with more fish sauce to taste. This sauce can be made 2 days ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

    Meanwhile, remove the central stems of the lime leaves and grind the leaves in a stone mortar until finely ground. Mix with the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil and set aside.
  4. Finish and bake the pizza dough. To test, dust the surface with flour and gently dent the dough with your finger. If the dent stays and does not bounce back, the dough is ready. Transfer one pizza dough to a well-floured surface and dust with more flour on top to prevent sticking. Use the knuckles on your fingers to gently and slowly dent the dough, pushing and spreading it from the center outward until it’s about 13 inches wide (it will shrink a bit during cooking). Think of it as if you’re pushing the air bubbles outward and concentrating them on the outer rim of the pizza. If you’re like me and like a pizza with a really puffed, bubbled, and chewy rim, then leave the rim slightly thicker than the rest of the dough. If the dough is resisting and springing back too much, just let it rest for another 5 to 10 minutes and continue.

    Arrange the dough into a disk on a pizza peel dusted with flour. Spread a layer of tom yum tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a thin margin of bare dough on the edge. Break the mozzarella into small chunks and spread them evenly over the sauce, then sprinkle with finely diced pickled chiles (I use about 2 or 3 per pizza) and thinly sliced garlic (about 1½ cloves per pizza) evenly on top.

    Heat a pizza stone, or large flat cast-iron griddle (what I typically use), or a heavy pizza pan on the stove over high heat, until it starts to smoke. Gently slide the pizza onto the hot stone/griddle/pan and transfer it onto the oven rack just below the broiler. Bake until the pizza is puffed, golden, and charred in some spots, about 5 minutes, watching carefully.

    Prep and bake the second pizza.
  5. Drizzle generously the Thai shrimp chile oil on each pizza, followed by the makrut lime leaf oil, for fragrance. Top with torn Thai basil or mint leaves, if using, and serve immediately.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Angie
  • Rhea Nithya Rajshekhar
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  • Ant

3 Reviews

Angie May 7, 2022
This recipe is a Lot of work. Bu every bit worth it. I bought pickled chilis but that's it. It's not fusion food it's 100% Asian.
Rhea N. September 25, 2021
I really enjoyed this recipe, I wasn’t sure whether the flavours would work but it really does. Used a few shortcuts - ready sourdough pizza dough and jarred pizza sauce which I then mixed with the Thai ingredients and cooked with the shrimp paste and oil. I wasn’t able to find a shrimp based chilli oil so used plain but it was still really good
Ant September 17, 2021
The Tom Yum sauce is the best pizza sauce I have ever had. I have been making this since I got Mandy Lee's cookbook, The Art of Escapism Cooking, last year. I find the recipe for sauce does make more than needed (as I don't condense my sauce down as much), so I end up freezing the extra sauce. This is honestly the only pizza sauce I make now.