March 3, 2008

Buenos Aires shrimp muzzarella pizza


In Argentina there are lots of people of Italian descent. I mean, it’s impressive. About half of the population has Italian roots. In fact, if you look at the phonebook in Buenos Aires you might really imagine that you’re in Italy because of the huge number of Italian last names. However even if there’s a clear Italian influence present in Argentine cuisine, it’s not as big as you might imagine. And the same thing happens with other aspects of the culture. While it’s true that you can recognize some Italian gestures and intonation in Argentine speech, Argentine Spanish is not at all just Spanish with an Italian accent – as people from other Spanish speaking countries usually believe. And the number of Italian words that remain in Argentine Spanish is very restricted. One of the reasons is that Italian immigration occurred very early, starting about 1850, when Italy wasn’t unified yet. Immigrants spoke their own dialects, prepared their own local specialties, and didn’t interact that much with Italians coming from other regions.

One of the biggest Italian communities in Argentina was the Neapolitan one, and that’s why pizza is one of the Italian traditions that became Argentine. Argentine pizza differs from the original Italian one because of the huge quantities of cheese used. Usually the dough will be covered with pummarola, a tasty tomato sauce, and then fully covered with cheese, so that you can’t see the tomato. This could hardly ever happen in Italy, and in Naples the red of the tomatoes is always the protagonist of pizza toppings. People in Argentina also love to toss dried oregano and Argentine parmesan cheese on top.

The most typical pizza in Buenos Aires and everywhere in Argentina is pizza muzzarella. Yeah, spelled like that because that’s the way people in Naples say it in their own dialect. So, what you get is almost like a Margherita, with a thin crispy crust, topped with tomato sauce, grated mozzarella cheese, olive oil and oregano.

Here’s my version of muzzarella pizza but also topped with Argentine shrimp.

Ingredients
Pizza dough (for one 15" pizza use half of one of these recipes)
1 cup of tomato sauce
10 - 12 oz mozzarella cheese
15 large shrimp, cleaned
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, pepper, oregano

Prepare the pizza dough according to one of my previous recipes; spread your favorite tomato sauce on top of the pizza dough, then add the coarsely grated mozzarella cheese, the shrimp, salt, pepper, oregano and some olive oil. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 450F for 25 minutes until golden brown and the shrimp are fully cooked.

Tips

Don’t expect fresh mozzarella in Buenos Aires. Not because you can’t find fresh mozzarella there, but you need a firmer and less creamy cheese than fresh mozzarella because of the quantity you use. So, if you want to try Argentine pizza, feel free to use domestic mozzarella cheese. I mean just the regular one you can buy at your local grocery store.

Argentine pizza is very popular is the Southern Cone. Certainly that’s what you’ll find in Uruguay. In big cities in Chile, usually the Italian-style pizzerias compete in popularity with the Argentine ones.

Posted by Daziano at 7:51 PM |  
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