After having proved its tenacity by being elected best restaurant of the world second time, and second time in a row, it would seem suitable to have a closer, personal look at what it is they do at NOMA.
Having dined at NOMA and being in the happy possession of a copy of the first cookbook from NOMA, called “NOMA – Nordisk Mad” (NOMA – Nordic Food) by René Redzepi and Claus Meyer (in Danish, Politikens Forlag 2006), I can offer my own interpretation of what it is NOMA does.
First of course the ingredients. Any restaurant with ambitions in today’s world need to rise above the ordinary places, the frozen mass-produced products, and focus on fresh, innovative, tasty ingredients. And NOMA does this in abundance with its feet firmly placed in the immense Nordic choice of original, tasty products.
Second of course the combinations, preparations and the presentations. This is where the style of NOMA is also unique, since it is both a deconstruction of well-known classics while at the same time also an invention of completely new dishes.
Both these qualities make it challenging if not impossible to cook a NOMA dish at home, particularly when living outside Nordic countries. However, being of Nordic origin does give you the advantages of “speaking the language of NOMA”. You share the same heritage and can recognise your childhood dishes somewhere in the recipes of NOMA.
An example: Fish roe. The spring has arrived when the fish roe is in the shops! In Denmark two main kinds of fish roes are eaten: Cods roe and Lumpsucker roe. Both herald the spring time, but the first is eaten cooked, the other raw. In the cookbook from NOMA there is a wonderful recipe based on the combination of raw Lumpsucker roe, potatoe mash, cream, herbs, bread crumble and crispy chicken skin. The basics of the dish are to combine the tastes of fish roe, fresh tasty creamy potatoe mash with the slight fatty crispiness of chicken skin. If you stick to this, any roe, any herbs, any crispy skin can be used. It’s a unique combination of “terre et mer”, of spring, of texture and tastes.
Redzepi’s recipe is simple and recommendable if you can get raw lumpsucker roe or otherwise I have used boiled, peeled cod’s roe, which is available from well stocked fishmongers in Brussels, such as Agadir in Ixelles.
You combine the roe in a dish with the boiled, grated potatoes, the herbs (parsley, dill, spring onions, chives), bread crumble (grated, frozen toast bread) and you pour a warm mix of cream and milk into the dish. You decorate with the crispy skin (made by baking the skin in the oven between two baking plates to keep it flat).