About Reductions

About Reductions

Words by Noma Projects

Photography: Ditte Isager & Fritz Buziek

The story of reductions at noma, or what we in the kitchen refer to as simply, RDX, starts with miso. During the formative years of noma, when the fermentation lab was on a houseboat, we experimented with the process of making miso after some very inspiring research trips to Japan. As rice and soy beans are not native to Denmark, we tried making miso out of different local grains and legumes. We found success with barley koji and split yellow peas, which came to be known among our team as peaso. While making peaso we discovered the world of tamari, which traditionally comes from the liquid that separates and sits atop the solids of the miso base, and then slowly evaporates as it ferments over time. The “tamari” liquid extracted from our peaso was so delicious, it was a lightbulb moment and kickstarted a deep dive into tamaris.

We wanted to see if it was possible to replicate the flavor of tamari in a quicker way than the evaporation that happens during the natural fermentation process. To speed things up, we blended our peaso with water for the base, experimented with adding the juices of every fruit or vegetable we had at our disposal, clarified the liquid, and then reduced those mixtures using very low heat until reaching a gently caramelized, syrup-like consistency. This is the process we refer to when we speak about RDX, or our series of reductions.  

The results yielded some very exciting and umami rich sauces, many of which quickly became staples on our pantry shelf. We’ve been refining this technique ever since, using different iterations of these reductions on our menus through the years, and Dashi RDX is the first that we are thrilled to be able to bottle and share with home cooks.

Dashi RDX

Dashi RDX is the first, among many to come, in our series of reductions. We choose to introduce Dashi RDX first because dashi is the backbone of Japanese cuisine, it’s the ubiquitous and defining flavor of many of the most mind-blowing bites we’ve ever had.  

Dashi RDX, RDX being the chef’s shorthand for reduction at noma, is a super concentration of flavor and technique; it’s an in-house brew of some of the most umami rich ingredients we can imagine together— traditional Japanese Dashi with our very own Smoked Mushroom Garum in place of the soy sauce— and we combine them employing a mix of traditional techniques we learned in Japan, and our own innovations in fermentation and reduction that we know to provide the most impactful flavor. The result is a dark, deeply flavorful, and complex syrup that we find addictive on top of just about anything.