Noma: Vegetable Garden

This was a first attempt to cook a recipe from Noma as closely as possible to how it’s written in the book. I made a sort-of Noma recipe before and loved the focus on the vegetables. They are cooked perfectly and presented simply. This particular recipe caught my attention from the first time I flipped through the book. It’s little more than a selection of vegetables and a base of mashed potatoes (and soil). Nothing too weird or difficult, except the final dish looks like a small vegetable garden complete with soil and all. I would love to serve this dish with small rabbit chops along side the vegetables…bunnies in the garden.

Redzepi uses a selection of root and green vegetables for his dish including celery root, leeks, sunchokes, baby zucchini and parsley root. I did not stick to that listing verbatim, but picked what seemed nice and fresh at the store. My list consisted of:

  • Beets – Roasted with salt and butter in foil, then peeled and cut into small segments
  • Thin carrots (with tops) – Cooked sous vide with salt at 85 C for about 45 minutes, tops reserved for garnish
  • Sunchokes (aka Jerusalem Artichokes) – Cooked sous vide with butter at 85 C for about 1.5 hours. They retained a nice firm texture while fully cooked.
  • Leeks – Used the smaller inner portion and blanched in salted water
  • Asparagus – blanched in salted water
  • Cauliflower – Florets cooked sous vide with salt at 85 C for about 45 minutes

The soil component of the dish is made from ground hazelnuts, flour, beer, malt flour and butter. It is seasoned with salt and sugar. The soil is made in two “installments” over a period of two days. Ingredients are mixed in, dried in the oven for hours and crumbled. The next day another set of ingredients goes through the same treatment before the two get combined. The idea is that the end result should look like dark rich soil and have a nice crunchy texture to complement the soft vegetables and the mashed potatoes. My soil did have that nice texture and very deep and rich taste, but unlike the recipe picture in the book it is much lighter in color. It looks more like sand than soil I guess. That malt flour might be the reason why the color was off. I could not find it anywhere and resorted to using a mixture of flour and malt powder.

The last component is a straightforward potato puree flavored with horseradish and enriched with butter and cream. The quantity in the book for the potato puree is a bit too small so I just tripled it. To plate, the mashed potatoes go in first as a base. After heating the vegetables in a butter-water emulsion, they get “planted” in the potatoes and the soil covers the whole thing up. For a garnish, I used carrot-top leaves, garlic shoots and parsley leaves. This was a delicious, satisfying and beautiful plate of food.

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