For at least 3-4 years now, I have been reading about this ‘nduja in food journals, magazines, books, etc. It has recently reached trendy proportions, and when an aunt asked what she could bring back for us from Rome recently, I asked for some ‘nduja. A cured spreadable spicy salumi made from pork and fiery Calabrian peppers, it is wickedly spicy and makes use of all kinds of porky goodness like the head of the pig, tripe, and other cuts of pork. It has the consistency of a pate mixed with spread. It is salted and cured, and I presume, technically uncooked, like a prosciutto is uncooked.
The first taste came on a cracker (we had no bread in the house due to dietary issues) and it was beautifully aggressive. The texture, fat and porkiness was clearly overshadowed by the spice, that welled up and reared its fire slowly but surely. It was delicious on its own, but even for a relative chili lover like myself, I found it a tad too fiery. Our aunt, who brought it back, viewed it with a bit of disdain, saying her Italian son-in-law threw it out whenever someone brought him some from Calabria. She brought us another milder spreadable salami instead, just in case we thought to throw the ‘nduja out ourselves. It’s quite amusing how Westerners can talk up a specific ingredient, that many locals might turn their noses up at. But I think in moderation and amongst other salumi, it definitely has a place on the table… We have three chunks of the stuff in our fridge/freezer, so I will have to do further experiments using the ingredient to enhance rather than dominate the flavor of a dish.