Okay, so we picked up our smoked albacore at Ruddell's Smoke House and now what? Time to make a pizza, of course. Chef Jensen is an inventive cook and has a great eye for presentation as well as a firm grasp on how to use fresh, locally sourced ingredients. And I'm big on the use of acidity -- this time in the form of both hot an cold heirloom tomatoes as well as Ruddell's "secret sauce" -- to make things pop so, between the two of us, I think we came up with an amazing pizza (but it was really mostly Jensen -- I just got to go along for the ride and throw in a few comments).
The use of the finishing "secret sauce," provided by Jim Ruddell himself, is the final key to tying all these great ingredients together. It was, as far as we could tell, a sort of lemon aioli, like an olive oil mayonnaise with extra lemon if you don't want to go to all the trouble of making aioli from scratch; we're not sure how Jim made his but it was good! The sauce, whether this one or any number of other "secret sauces" that all fish taco shacks have in their arsenal (as does any great hoagie shop), causes every ingredient to seemingly explode and give up its full potential of flavor. I mean, when you fold a slice of pizza around these ingredients there really is very little difference between a pizza - a sandwich - or a taco, which is exactly the point I've been making for years: pizza is just dough with something on it and it exists in every culture, in many variations, and under a variety of names. Dough with something on it, when the dough is killer and the something on it explodes with flavor, it works every time no matter what you call it.
So, our goal was to create a sort of fish taco pizza and, in one of my favorite moments in this video, you can tell how well we did by looking closely at Jensen's wife, Grace, and the subtle look on her face when she takes her first bite -- priceless!!
The Cass House Signature Central Coast Pizza with locally smoked Albacore!