|Italian focaccia bread with Korean chili paste with rapini namul, East and West have come together in the oven.|
Doh! I was trying to make Italian bread this past weekend but my dough didn’t rise as high as I wanted. But all was not a waste, I made focaccia instead with gochuchang, Korean chili paste. Baked pastries and breads are not traditional Asian methods of cooking, but their Western influences have been widely adapted and transformed. Koreans and Japanese tea shops are bustling with French pastries and cakes; China is now the largest consumer of red wines and Scotch whiskey. It’s only fair since Italian pasta originated from the Far East. I recall Chinese pizza from trips to Hong Kong and Philippines: spongy rice-wheat crust with sweet red sauce topped with hard-cured lapsang sausage. It wasn’t terrible, but it sure wasn’t pizza.
Focaccia is an oven-baked flat bread similar to pizza but instead of tomato sauce and cheese it’s lightly flavored with herbs, course salt and olive oil. I’m experimenting with combinations of bread and rice flours, as well as extra virgin olive and dark roasted sesame oils. Instagram friend and sous chef Jason LaVerdiere aptly named this dish gochujaccia, and thus the name has stuck. This recipe is still in development. I’m sharpening up my baking skills for the pastry section of my ePUB cookbook. Of course I’m also working on the gluten-free version of this toothsome Italian bread. Here’s a sneak peek.