Book Review: Nopi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully

Book Review: Nopi by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully

by Katie Smith 16 November 2015

NOPI: The Cookbook is Yotam Ottolenghi's latest book written in collaboration with NOPI head chef Ramael Scully. Together they have compiled an eclectic mix of restaurant-style recipes and simpler dishes to inspire and challenge.

Katie is an avid home baker, passionate about using seasonal produce and hedgerow ingredients. As part of the editorial team at Great British Chefs, she pursues her dual loves of food and writing.

Katie is an avid home baker, passionate about using seasonal produce and hedgerow ingredients. On her recent travels around South America she could often be found in the bustling food markets trying the local specialities and finding inspiration for new recipes. As part of the editorial team at Great British Chefs, she pursues her dual loves of food and writing.

London-based NOPI is Yotam Ottolenghi’s flagship restaurant which serves ‘small plates’ of food inspired by the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia. NOPI: The Cookbook is the latest edition in Ottolenghi’s line of successful cookery books and has been written in collaboration with head chef Ramael Scully. The first thing you notice about the book is the strikingly minimal, gilded cover which reflects the simple yet elegant interior of the restaurant. Within these stylish pages is food which perfectly illustrates the eclectic menu at this much-loved destination. The introduction provides an insight into how NOPI and the style of food it serves came about, as well as a lovely depiction of Ottolenghi and Scully’s professional relationship and ultimate friendship.

This collection of recipes will definitely delight NOPI’s fervent fans with its selection of authentic dishes, including NOPI favourites such as Burrata with blood orange, coriander seeds and lavender oil, the much-adored Beef brisket croquettes, the up-to-now secret Corn bread recipe and the infamous Baked blue cheese cake, the photo of which looks so delicious oozing with cheesy goodness that it just makes you want to dive right in with a massive chunk of crusty bread.

Ottolenghi’s latest book is a world away from the usual bright colours and mishmash of food images which adorn many a contemporary cookery book. It is refined and sumptuous to look at with stunning photography and the sophisticated design reflects the style of cooking which is relatively advanced. As Ottolenghi states: ‘This is a restaurant cookbook: it features restaurant food’ – but that’s not a bad thing. The original NOPI dishes may sometimes be complicated and time-involved, but with a bit of organisation and guidance Ottolenghi promises that you should be able to create them at home.

NOPI: The Cookbook is therefore perfect for the more adventurous home cook looking for challenging restaurant-style recipes, but it also has enough simpler dishes to inspire even the most timid of chefs and dishes such as the Celeriac purée with spiced cauliflower and quail’s eggs and Persian love rice with burnt butter tzatziki also include suggestions for how they may be shortened. There are also ideas for ways in which to play around with the ingredients if you are feeling particularly inspired. The majority of recipes in the book also have little interesting bits of history attached. These little snippets give the recipes a fantastic personal touch and provide a unique insight into their creation.

I particularly liked the section dedicated to the perfect NOPI-style meal combinations with ideas for starters, mains and dessert. I can definitely envisage using this section when frantically trying to come up with ideas for a special three-course meal. I also love how Ottolenghi and Scully have championed the lesser known cuts of pork neck, onglet steak and lamb sweetbreads, cuts which are often left out of more mainstream cookery books.

Cocktails make a great addition and you can even see the Middle Eastern/Asian/Mediterranean flavours of NOPI coming through here in the Sumac martini and Spiced pumpkin cocktails. These drinks, like many of Ottolenghi and Scully’s recipes, often use unheard-of ingredients, but there is a glossary at the back of the book with helpful suggestions for more accessible alternatives. Nopi is definitely a sophisticated cookbook but no matter where your level of culinary skill lies, there are recipes here to suit so if you are looking for a new cookery book which is overflowing with flavour-packed recipes to challenge as well as inspire then NOPI: The Cookbook is most certainly for you.

Buy this book:

NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully (Ebury Press, 2015)