Sushi Pizza Hacking – the Sauce

Sushi Pizza being prepared at the Sushi Excellent Restaurant

Sushi Pizza being prepared at Sushi Excellent Restaurant

Is tuna the consensus choice for the main ingredient? Is that true solely because of the color? No sauce allowed? I can’t imagine the rationale for this unless it’s a sentimental yearning for a red color below the toppings. But let’s go with it, and hopefully we can revisit this at some future time.

Pizza sauce is all about tomatoes. True enough, some pizzas have no sauce, but the vast majority of them have sauce. The balance of sweetness and sourness from the tomatoes is a key flavor profile. That component is critical to the flavor balance in a traditional pie, as it works well against the saltiness of the cheese.

The sushi pizzas we’ve seen have no sauce. The tuna layer serves as a visual substitute, but where is the flavor balance? A nice juicy, sweet and sour sauce makes a pizza come alive, and we think it’s a mistake to forgo the sauce on a sushi pizza.


Sushi pizzas typically use tuna and that’s fine, but the sweet and especially the sour components cannot be omitted! Luckily there is no shortage of sour tastes in the sushi world that work well with tuna. Surely some yuzu or ponzu sauce should be applied directly to the tuna. Purists may want to stick to mirin or a mixture of rice vinegar and some sweetener, but yuzu works famously. So technically this is the “sauce” even though you see through it to the “visual sauce”, the red tuna.

Gorgeous presentation but what is that sauce underneath the toppings? Why it looks like Mayo! #FAIL

Gorgeous presentation but what is that sauce underneath the toppings? Why it looks like Mayo! #FAIL

Note that we haven’t addressed the sweetness. Some pizza sauces are just tart, but pizza enthusiasts who relish a fine sweet sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes will certainly want to adjust the sweetness. Sweet sake is sometimes used as a sweetener, in tamago for example, but too much liquid is going to make for a messy pie. No, we will not be recommending eel sauce, as it’s just overwhelming and makes our flavor balancing exercise useless. Plum sauce should be okay, if used sparingly.

For completeness’ sake it should be noted that there are some very sweet soy sauce varieties out there, including some that use very little soy bean! Some of these would present wonderful balance of sweet and salty, but they are going to be difficult to find outside of East Asia.

Our alternative recommendation for you rebels out there is going to be mint. Not too sweet, which would ruin the balance, but with a unique refreshing flavor that should play well here if used in moderation. And for the true sushi hackers, try hijiki, a healthy, sweet black seaweed. Whatever your strategy, really focus on getting the right amount of sourness, it’s the key flavor in your sushi pizza!

<< Sushi Pizza Theory: the Crust  |  Modern Sushi Hacking: the Sauce >>

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