Trash cooking

Think twice before it goes in the compost

3 min readOct 11, 2021


Photo by Patricia Valério on Unsplash

Trash Cooking — it’s what René Redzepi calls it — using the parts of an ingredient that would normally be trashed automatically. René is Chef-patron at the Copenhagen restaurant Noma, which was voted the world’s top restaurant (by 900 peers) for three consecutive years. He has built a new Nordic cuisine that doesn’t have a precedent, based around seasonal local foraging (beach and woods) and freshness.

Here’s my take on one of his trash cooking suggestions:

The spring onions were steamed (juicy) and the roots deep-fried (crunchy) making a delightful combination. René uses baby leeks (I’ve never seen them here) instead of spring onions, and serves them with a parsley puree and capers. He also lightly batters the roots. A fun dish, highlighting the part usually thrown away. Good enough to serve at the world’s best restaurant, literally. Other ideas? Dehydrated deep-fried fish scales anyone?

Another example:

Nearly all of a corncob can be used one way or another. The leaves make a great wrapping for grilled corn, or other fillings; and if making a corn soup, adding the stripped cobs together with the kernels themselves intensify the flavour; but what to do about that pesky corn ‘silk’?

Talbot and Kamozawa suggest dehydrating it thoroughly and deep-frying at high temperature (205C). Either served as a garnish, or arranged as a nest holding an egg. The test looked great, but I don’t think I fried them at a high enough temperature, as they weren’t as crispy as they look, and were a bit oily. The egg was cooked sous vide (62C; 90m). They had a beautiful sheen though — worth a second go I think.

And what about the tomato? So ubiquitous surely there’s nothing new to be found in a raw tomato. Unless, of course, you are Ferran Adrià.

He takes the least popular part, the seeds, and extracts them in one piece. Served like that and commanding attention, they take on a new perspective — a natural delicate tomato jelly. Melt-in-the-mouth, and savoury.

It’s interesting to rethink the potential behind the bits of food destined for the bin.

It’s quite like science really — seeing things with a new perspective, or noticing something that’s been overlooked. Wittgenstein (20thcentury British philosopher) once asked his students why, for so long, people thought the Sun went around the Earth.

Someone answered: Because that’s what it looks like it does.

Wittgenstein replied — so what would it look like if the Earth went around the Sun?




Science of cooking, eating and health. Retired neuroscientist.