What is nduja? Nduja is a soft, spicy hot, spreadable salami considered one of the most famous, if not the most famous, typical Calabrian foods. The name derives from the Latin "inducere" but the origins of this product are still not very clear. According to some historians it was introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s and was made using their traditional paprika, but its name also come from the French word “andouille”, and it is similar to a French sausage that could have been imported to Italy in Napoleon times, around the years 1806-1815.
The Nduja is a symbol of the Calabrian culture and has become one of the region’s biggest exports, together with their cheeses, cured meats, wines and olive oil. Nduja originates from Spilinga, but great nduja can be found in all areas of Monte Poro and the surrounding area. Every year in the town of Vibo Valentia on the 8th of May, the festival of the Nduja is celebrated. It is a gastronomic experience in which all the people of the town get together to celebrate this ingredient by preparing many different dishes using it. Nduja is made using meat from the head, trimmings from various meat cuts, some clean skin, fatback, and roasted hot red peppers, which give nduja its characteristic fiery taste.
In general, nduja is extremely spicy. However, a less spicy version can sometimes be found. Nduja is often considered an aphrodisiac due to all of the red pepper inside, and it is also great for the heart, and it tastes wonderful. Nduja is a pork-based product in which ground pork is kneaded together with salt and Calabrian chili pepper. The mixture is then made into sausage by encasing it in the animal's natural intestinal lining. The sausage is then slightly smoked and allowed to rest and season for a number of months. Unlike typical salami, this salami is made to have a very soft, spreadable consistency, which makes nduja completely different than any other salami, with an absolutely unique taste. The quality of the pepper utilized is extremely important to the flavor of this typical product. It is not difficult to find nduja that utilizes lower quality red pepper, but it also means a lower quality nduja, so always mind what you pay for. One can be confident of high quality if one is careful to select nduja that originates from the Calabrian region. In Calabria, pepper is not only an ingredient; it's much more. Red pepper represents tradition, culture and history.
Nduja not only has pepper of high quality, but also a lot of pepper. For this reason, someone not used to really spicy foods may have a bit of difficulty eating nduja, except in small quantities, at least at first. Nduja is perfect with the bruschetta, a simple grilled bread, and with any kind of antipasto (starter dish), but can also be used to season pasta, pizzas, or anything else that takes your fancy.
Penne Zucchini and Nduja
for 4 people
300g/10.58oz Zucchini cleaned and cut into cubes
1 small onion
Put thinly sliced onion into the pan with oil to taste. Add the zucchini and cook until they are soft. Add the nduja, and let it simmer until the zucchini is properly flavoured. Meanwhile, cook the pasta ‘al dente’ in salted water. Drain it and pour some of its water into the sauce. Stir it up, sprinkle some chopped parsley and serve hot. Enjoy this flavorful and spicy dish!
For more information: www.ndujaartisans.com