Few tasting menus have been talked about as much as the one from Noma’s pop-up in Tulum, Mexico. For seven weeks we have seen viral photos of ant larvae and still lifes of native ingredients like tropical fruit. Tom Sietsema, of the Washington Post, called it “the meal of the decade.” The Los Angeles Times‘ Jonathan Gold loved it. The New York Times‘ Pete Wells probably would have loved it. There was controversy surrounding the price. There was controversy surrounding the controversy. Regardless of your personal feelings about René Redzepi and his Copenhagen crew’s stay on the Yucatán peninsula, there’s little argument that the following menu has shown a spotlight on Mexican ingredients and culinary techniques like few menus ever have. Here, in its entirety, a look at the Noma Mexico tasting menu. – Editor’s Note
Possibly, the signature dish of Noma’s residence — and certainly the most photographed — was the pulpo, or octopus (#11, right, above). Chef Luis Hinostroza, a part of the Tulum test kitchen and chef de partie in Noma Copenhagen, walked us through the preparation of this dish. First, he explained, “the octopus gets massaged with salt (for about 10 minutes) in order to tenderize and season it. After the salt gets washed off, the octopus then gets blanched three times with boiling water, two minutes per time. Next, it gets portioned and laid on a bed of corn leaves that has been cooked and smoked underground, then left to ferment for four to five days.” Called maiz pibinal, the corn leaves come from a small town on the Yucatán peninsula called Muna.
Ultimately, the octopus gets wrapped in these very smoky corn leaves “with grilled local lime oil [the lime skin is grilled to make oil] and epazote to add flavor, and then wrapped, again, in a 2-3% salted masa dough. This masa cocoon gets buried in the coals for about 50 minutes. It rests for 15 minutes out of the coals, and is then cut open for serving.” Paired with a sauce that takes inspiration from a very traditional Yucatecan sikil pak, which has a base of roasted pumpkin seeds, “the one here also incorporates a lot of the ferments that we use back home in Denmark, pushing that traditional flavor forward.”
The final dish — (16) — a mango piña from Oaxaca is not pictured.