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.


9 Responses

  1. Top pic looks appetizing. It’s name sounds suspiciously like the Spanish endecha which means lament.

    No bread in the house, just crackers.

  2. looks a lot like Spanish sobrasada. though probably not a traditional way of eating it, sobrasada becomes even tastier when pan fried before spreading on a cracker :) have also used it to make croquetas

  3. Cibeles pastry shop used to supply sobreasada baked in millefeuille pastry; light as a feather and bursting with flavour.

  4. You’re not supposed to use enormous amounts of nduja in any recipe. If you want to make a pasta sauce, you need to let a little bit “cream” in some olive oil and then add a liter or more of good tomato passata to it, let it bubble away for about an hour and you will have a nicely flavored, piquante pasta sauce. Similarly you can add little 1/4 tsps of it to a tomato pizza topping. If you use it in moderation , the fine aged flavor of the meats and piggy parts should develop and come through. Have lived 30 years in Italy and cooked this many many times using only GOOD nduja made by farmers from animals they know personally. :)) The spice and heat are important but become almost secondary to the sweetly cured meat behind it. (oh- original may be a corruption of french “andouille” sausage that is also made with similar ingredients).

  5. Robin, thanks for that. I appreciate it. I used the nduja in a pasta recipe from a major food publication but it didn’t quite work out. The nduja we got may have not been of the best quality, but at least it was brought in from Rome, originally sourced from the area it is made in… I suppose it takes some getting used to, and will have to eat it more…

  6. It’s the Italian version of the Mallorquin Sobrasada. There surely are some regional differences, but they’re essentially the same. Go further north, to the Germanic areas, where peppers do not grow, use lard without colouring, and fried onion instead, and voila, you’ve got Schmalz.



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