NOPI: The Cookbook

Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully
  • Review
By – January 7, 2016

With its gilt edges, hand­some con­tem­po­rary design, and com­plex recipes, NOPI: The Cook­book is as much a repli­ca of the renowned Lon­don restau­rant as it is a kitchen tool.

After estab­lish­ing their Mid­dle East-fla­vored delis in sev­er­al Lon­don neigh­bor­hoods, Israeli-born Yotam Ottolenghi and his team — includ­ing the dynam­ic and cre­ative chef Ramael Scul­ly — decid­ed it was time to open a grown-up restau­rant,” and Nopi, now a West End des­ti­na­tion, is the result.

Ottolenghi states at the out­set that NOPI is a restau­rant cook­book with recipes that are worked on by a staff of pro­fes­sion­als. As restau­rant recipes, they call for many steps and ingre­di­ents, but to invite the adven­tur­ous home cook to try these rich and inven­tive dish­es, Ottolenghi and Scul­ly have adjust­ed and sim­pli­fied many recipes while keep­ing their essence intact. The recipes are intro­duced with brief expla­na­tions that under­line the fla­vor­ings and tech­niques that set the dish­es off.

Nopi food is a riot of col­or and fla­vor that draw on a world of food tra­di­tions. In his pre­vi­ous cook­books Ottolenghi brought his Mid­dle East­ern upbring­ing to the table; now they are met by Scully’s poly­glot back­ground — Malaysian, Chi­nese, Indi­an, and Irish, all laced with copi­ous dol­lops of but­ter. Exam­ples of this blend are seen in such dish­es as Spiced But­ter­milk Cod with Urad Dal; Baby Car­rots and Mung Beans with Smoked Lab­neh and Crisp Pita; Roast­ed Duck Breast with Hazel­nut Beer But­ter (no but­ter, how­ev­er!), Red Quinoa, and Mush­rooms; Sweet Pota­to Pan­cakes with Yogurt and Date Syrup. Ottolenghi has always had a lover’s hand with veg­eta­bles, enrich­ing them with a vivid palette of fla­vors, and the sides and sal­ads here show his flair. Many will make strik­ing accom­pa­ni­ments to straight­for­ward main dish­es. The brief brunch and dessert sec­tions also have some tempt­ing and fresh choices.

Kosher cooks will have to pick their way care­ful­ly through Nopi and try some sub­sti­tutes for the gen­er­ous use of but­ter, but they will be reward­ed with dish­es that are prac­ti­cal­ly unique in their approach to the world of fla­vors. The book is lav­ish­ly illus­trat­ed. Full-col­or illus­tra­tions, index, ingre­di­ent list, menu suggestions.

Relat­ed Content:

Maron L. Wax­man, retired edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor, spe­cial projects, at the Amer­i­can Muse­um of Nat­ur­al His­to­ry, was also an edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor at Harper­Collins and Book-of-the-Month Club.

Discussion Questions