Over the past eighteen years, Restaurant Noma has lived many lives. From their early days exploring Nordic cuisine in a centuries-old whaling warehouse, to hosting extended pop-ups around the world, to reopening the restaurant on the other side of Copenhagen, Noma team has spent nearly two decades cooking, learning, travelling, and studying the world together.
Noma Projects is a way to share all of their accumulated knowledge and craft, while hopefully inspiring positive change in the world. From products for your pantry to community-based initiatives, Noma Projects will be a way for us to address the issues the team cares about, while fueling their own creativity. Noma Projects is run and operated by a team of Noma veterans in Copenhagen.
First up, Project 1: Noma’s line of garums. Their take on a thousand-year-old culinary tradition that they’ve been developing over the past two decades. They’re potent umami-rich sauces and they’ve been the key to our success at Noma in our vegetarian and vegan menus. Later this year, they will launch two of the team's favorite garums – Smoked Mushroom Garum (vegan) and Sweet Rice and Egg Garum (vegetarian). Ferments are currently brewing and will be ready to ship later this year.
What is garum?
Garums were originally fermented fish sauces made all around the Mediterranean basin. The tradition dates back thousands of years. The umami-rich sauce can be used as a versatile seasoning for all kinds of food—much like one might use soy sauce or fish sauce today. For almost two decades, they've been studying and employing the process of making garum using ingredients from Noma's backyard, in order to extract the deepest, most interesting flavors from both plant- and animal-based ingredients.
Imagine having something in your pantry that makes almost any savory food more delicious. A helping hand when you feel like something is missing in a salad dressing or marinade. A little touch that will take spaghetti Bolognese to the next level. That extra savory kick you need to round out the roasting juices from a chicken. Or, a magic elixir that imbues vegetables with the deep flavor that meat and fish typically give you. Garums are the exclamation point to almost any meal without breaking a sweat (or spending hundreds of hours of trial and error).
1-001: SMOKED MUSHROOM GARUM
Lightly smoked mushroom garum is a plant-based option full of earthy, fruity flavors and a ton of umami. We crush organic mushrooms with salt and rice koji before cold-smoking and bottling this special brew. It’s a fantastic way to add umami and richness to your cooking.
Here’s an example of how to use it:
Slice and fry your preferred mushrooms over high heat. Once golden brown, turn the heat to low, add a slice of cold butter along with a spoonful of smoked mushroom garum and a small handful of pine nuts and swirl the pan a few times. Move the contents to a bowl, put the pan back on the heat, and toss in some grated cauliflower. Sauté for a minute, then mix together with the fried mushrooms. You can add chopped herbs, pomegranate or even a fried egg for a perfect lunch or side dish.
1-002: SWEET RICE AND EGG GARUM
The team has developed this garum in order to harness the umami of a traditional garum without using meat. Their egg-white garum offers a versatile, vegetarian-friendly flavour enhancement to a diverse and broad spectrum of preparations. Fresh egg whites are blended with toasted rice koji and salt before being fermented for 5 weeks at 60C. The resulting elixir lends a luxurious roundness to any dish.
Here’s an example of how to use it:
Add 250 grams of your preferred pasta to boiling salted water. Cook the pasta very al dente—about 2 min less then recommended on the pack. Meanwhile, place a large sauté pan over medium heat along with a teaspoon of freshly ground pepper and toast. Now add 25 grams of butter along with half a ladle of the boiling pasta water. Bring to a simmer. Once the butter, pepper, and pasta water have reduced by about half, add a tablespoon of Sweet Rice and Egg Garum, along with the pasta, make sure to swirl the pan about and add a few handfuls of grated Parmesan or Pecorino. Continue to swirl for about a minute, adding more pasta water if needed.
Top with fresh herbs or crisp bread crumbs.