What Is Nduja and Why Is It Suddenly on Every Menu?

Richard Vines wrote . . . . .

When chef Francesco Mazzei put nduja on the menu in London back in 2006, he had to add a note explaining what it was: a spicy, spreadable sausage from his native Calabria in southern Italy.

“No one had heard of it,” Mazzei says. “But the flavor is amazing. And I also wanted to provide business for Calabrians.”

Now, the ingredient is showing up everywhere: on pizza, stuffed inside squid, sprinkled in pasta dishes and even on supermarket shelves.

Nduja — pronounced, in Mazzei’s Calabrian accent, as in-DOOJ-ah — is made with pork fat, herbs and spices, along with spicy Calabrian peppers, which give nduja chili heat and a distinctive red color. It originated in Vibo Valentia province, and much of it still comes from the town of Spilinga.

“It’s great with anything from burrata to shellfish to pizza, and you can whack it in almost any pasta,” said Jacob Kenedy, the chef behind Bocca di Lupo, near Piccadilly Circus in London. “It’s the go-to ingredient for a bit of a kick. It’s like a non-vegetarian chili oil.”

Kenedy has served regional Italian dishes such as orecchiette with nduja, red onion, tomato and rocket at Bocca di Lupo. (It’s not on the menu currently, but he says he can make it if you ask ahead.) The flavor works particularly well for the British palate, he says.

“Nduja deserves to be popular because it is fiery-hot and piggy, which are two very good things together,” Kenedy says.

In New York, April Bloomfield, the chef at the Spotted Pig, is a fan. Her dishes include squid stuffed with nduja. There’s even an American version of nduja, made in Iowa by La Quercia.

One of the main manufacturers in Calabria is San Vincenzo di Fernando Rota. Export Manager Claudio Talarico has noticed increased demand from across Europe, especially in the past three or four years. “Francesco Mazzei was one of the first chefs in England to buy from us,” Talarico says.

The name is probably a derivative of the French andouille, according to Academia Barilla, the Italian Food Academy. When the French fought the Spanish in southern Italy in the early 19th century, they may have helped in the development of nduja.

There are also similarities to the Spanish cured sausage, sobrasada.

“It’s cool to cook with,” says Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, who serves an onion dish with tomato and nduja sauce at his new restaurant, Temple and Sons, in London’s financial district. “You get this really umami, yummy, spicy taste and people love spicy food. They want a little bit of a kick in their food.”

The ingredient is becoming readily available in the U.K. In April 2015, British retailer Marks & Spencer started to sell a spicy-nduja-and-tomato pasta sauce made in Calabria, by Saor Italia. “It’s been flying off the shelf,” says Lesley Anderson, the store’s groceries product developer, who called it the “ingredient of the moment.” M&S plans to offer new pasta dishes using nduja next year, Anderson says.

So what is next? Watch out for gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste. It’s already sold in Waitrose, a higher-end British grocery store, and is starting to appear on menus as London chefs very belatedly discover a fabulous and distinctive Asian cuisine. It’s served at StreetXO, the new London restaurant of Madrid chef David Muñoz, which opened this month.

Korean lasagna XO style with aged Galician beef, shitake, gochujang hot ‘n’ sour tomato sauce and cardamom béchamel anyone?

Source: Bloomberg

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Home-made Truffles with Blueberry and Quinoa

Ingredients

1 cup coconut butter
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 Tbsp quinoa flakes
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground dried ginger
1/8 tsp sea salt
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 Tbsp coconut oil

Method

  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and coconut oil. Puree until smooth. Transfer to bowl and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour until the texture of thick fudge.
  3. In small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate chips and coconut oil. Set aside.
  4. Scoop chilled truffle mixture out onto prepared baking sheet. Quickly roll into balls (the heat of your hands will begin to melt truffles). Drizzle or coat completely with chocolate and freeze for 1 hour. Transfer to sealed container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Makes 12 truffles.

Source: Sage

In Pictures: Pizza of Italian Restaurants in Shinjuku, Japan

One of the Restaurant

Frequent Sauna Bathing Protects Men Against Dementia

Frequent sauna bathing can reduce the risk of dementia, according to a recent study carried out at the University of Eastern Finland. In a 20-year follow-up, men taking a sauna 4-7 times a week were 66% less likely to be diagnosed with dementia than those taking a sauna once a week. The association between sauna bathing and dementia risk has not been previously investigated.

The effects of sauna bathing on the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia were studied in the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study (KIHD), involving more than 2,000 middle-aged men living in the eastern part of Finland. Based on their sauna-bathing habits, the study participants were divided into three groups: those taking a sauna once a week, those taking a sauna 2-3 times a week, and those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week.

The more frequently saunas were taken, the lower was the risk of dementia. Among those taking a sauna 4-7 times a week, the risk of any form of dementia was 66% lower and the risk of Alzheimer’s disease 65% lower than among those taking a sauna just once a week. The findings were published recently in the Age and Ageing journal.

Previous results from the KIHD study have shown that frequent sauna bathing also significantly reduces the risk of sudden cardiac death, the risk of death due to coronary artery disease and other cardiac events, as well as overall mortality. According to Professor Jari Laukkanen, the study leader, sauna bathing may protect both the heart and memory to some extent via similar, still poorly known mechanisms. “However, it is known that cardiovascular health affects the brain as well. The sense of well-being and relaxation experienced during sauna bathing may also play a role.”

Source: EurekAlert!


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