Ocean: the menu at Redzepi’s Noma, dish by dish

Each season, there’s a new menu at the restaurant in Copenhagen. For the season that has just ended, the inspiration and the ingredients came from the sea. Here’s the report

30-06-2022
by Giovanni Farinella
René Redzepi, in the middle, with part of the sta

René Redzepi, in the middle, with part of the staff at Noma

Sitting at Noma means experiencing the restaurant that more than others has marked the international gastronomic scene of the past 10 years, a privilege that goes beyond stars – the third from the Michelin Guide only arrived in 2021 – and lists – Noma 2.0 was nominated at the top of World’s 50 Best that same year.

In collecting (symbolically) the revolutionary impact of Ferran Adria and elBulliRené Redzepi, Danish chef of Albanian-Macedonian origins, codified a method and a cooking style that goes beyond the borders of Scandinavia and the “Nordic” brand, and interpreted nature both in its primordial character and in its evolutionary potential. He extracted its essence and widened the borders of the edible.

With NomaRedzepi built a totalising experience, which begins when the guest is welcomed with a warm embrace by the Front of the House staff – an expression of a genuinely natural and friendly service –, continues with the aesthetics, which hint at the Nordic “sæter” farms and at the use of wood in its different forms, and develops through an experimental cuisine that places the guest in the middle of the forest or in the icy waters of the ocean.

In the revolutionary movement of the Noma planet, the solar year has three seasons: Ocean which accompanies guests from February to June, Summer from June to October and Game and Forest from October to December.

While the summer celebrates nature’s abundance and harvest, Game celebrates respecting animals and the potential of the Danish autumn, and Ocean brings on the table the best seafood from the seas of Scandinavia, preserved in their excellence by the icy waters in the coldest months.

Crab broth

The welcome of the Ocean season is an infusion of crab, lapsang tea and prawn garum, seasoned with oil with blackcurrants, to be sipped straight from the carapace recreated in the shape of a flask with the help of beeswax. It’s a warm and slightly tarty “kiss” with a long and soft finish – thanks to the beeswax

Crab and toasted hazelnuts

Perhaps the least “Instagrammed” dish in the menu, but one of the bites you’d repeat again and again. Slightly cooked crab, Danish prawns and fresh milk from salted hazelnuts. The prawns act as the structure of the dish, adding texture on the palate. The result is an elegant and fresh dish, with nicely focused flavours.

Eye of blue mussel

One of the most aesthetically attractive dishes in the menu. A quail egg, marinated and smoked, served inside a blue mussel. The pupil is made of spicy oil. To finish the dish, a mix of 15 ingredients – dominated by mushrooms – that are dried and sprinkled on the shell of the mussel to add salinity and umami to the dish.

Scallop “Steak”

Norwegian scallop – an XXL size, compared to the molluscs available in our seas – covered with a veil of butter of caramelised seaweed and served with its coral and grated horseradish. The interesting thing of this dish is the extreme freshness of the ingredients: the scallops are kept alive in tanks of water, and only opened a few seconds before being served.

Seaweed and prawn salad

A juice of prawns served in the shape of a frozen mousse, covered with sugar kelp marinated in white currant juice and served with a brush of cream of parsley and rose oil. Three evanescent mouthfuls on the palate, with the seaweeds adding structure to the bite.

Marinated lumpfish roe

Ana Cândida Ferraz, senior member of the Front of the House staff arrives at the table with a tray on which a lumpfish is placed. Its eggs are a forte of the season (with all due respect to caviar lovers). In this recipe they are served with a sauce of egg yolks with butter and roasted yeast. It’s a crescendo of flavours and a use of yeast worthy of further research (and which in terms of taste and presence recalls Camanini’s spaghetti with butter at Lido 84).

Apple and oyster

In my opinion, the best dish of the season. It’s a dish that offers some point of reference and is unique to Noma. A masterpiece entirely structured on different levels of aromas: raw oyster, apple cooked in a juice of chokeberries, oyster leaves, broth of jasmine and gooseberry.

Calamari cooked with spores of koji

Danish calamari carefully cut with a knife, marinated in a sediment of seaweed, blanched in prune water and salted with a butter of koji. The result is a very soft but not gelatinous meat, which allows for the meat of the mollusc to relax completely, and adds a unique texture for this kind of product. The dish is finished by the guest with poppy seeds to be added by shaking a dried poppy flower.

Sea snail kebab

While the previous dish surprises in terms of softness, the sea snail kebab is crispy. It alternates sea snail, clams, truffle (preserved in fermentation liquid), and is served with a butter of saffron and clams. One unique feature of the dish is its pleasant woody aroma added by the pinecone and by a vinaigrette with pine needles.

Cod roe waffle

Cod roe, or torskerogn, are a Danish specialty, often “spread” on rye bread. In this version at Noma, the cod roe is served on a waffle of buckwheat miso, decorated with toasted seeds and finished with hazelnut oil. A dish with a strong acidity, that prepares the palate for the next three dishes.

Soufflé of sole

There’s a change of style in the flavours tasted until this moment, and an opportunity to experiment with spiciness at Noma. The filet of sole with a mousse of cod, is covered with an XO sauce and served with cabbage and a sauce of barley and mustard seeds.

Puff pastry with caviar

A break to neutralise the spicy note of the previous dish and prepare the palate for the last course, “traditionally” savoury. A puff pastry filled with cream, “glazed” with an emulsion of oyster and topped with caviar. Rich but not too rich.

Norwegian scampi

The main dish in the menu. Scampi meticulously cleaned of their carapace from head to tail. A dish that enhances the minerality of the scampi in their wholeness, enriched with a sauce made with butter – aromatised with a garum of smoked mussels and sakè – and a slice of wild quince apple to squeeze on top to add acidity.

Amazake of quinze apple and oyster caramel

Amazake is a sweetener made from the enzymatic fermentation of rice. The first of the three “desserts” is a quinze gelato made with fermented rice and completed with a caramel of oyster, spirulina and honey. A dish that doesn’t abandon the ocean theme while adding a moderate sweetness.

Sugar kelp sandwich

A sandwich made by caramelising sugar kelp, stuffed with a mousse of yogurt made with prune stones. The stone adds a slightly bitter note to the dish, contributing to its clean palate.

Tartellette of sweet mushrooms

Dulcis in fundo. The dish that ends the Ocean experience is also the only one without fish or seafood. A tartellette of cream, topped with a tartellette of fruits of the forest and caramelised chanterelle mushrooms. A bite. Acidity, sweetness and sapidity. That’s all folks!

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso