What is it?
A soft, spreadable and very hot salami (pronounced en-doo-ya) from southern Italy - more specifically, from Calabria and, more specifically still, from the village of Spilinga. Often served as part of an antipasti or salumi platter, it's now spread on pizza, baked into bread, and used as an instant flavour bomb for pasta, soup and slow braises.
Where is it?
Calabrian-born Pino Tomini Foresti of Sydney's Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods & Cooking School has been making nduja for nearly 30 years, with the permission of the mayor of Spilinga. ''We use a very special chilli, and fat trimmed from pork belly and prosciutto,'' he says. ''I add nduja to everything except my coffee.'' At Bondi's La Piadina, Damiano and Fausto Zizioli have become renowned for their ''Number 5'' piadina - freshly made Italian flatbread slapped on the grill and folded over nduja, stracchino and caramelised Spanish onions. ''The cheese is soft and creamy, so it cuts the heat of the nduja,'' explains Damiano. Chef Stefano Manfredi serves it in summer, with goat's cheese bruschetta. ''Nduja brings together two great food groups, pork and chilli,'' he says.
At Gorski & Jones in Collingwood, chef Paul Jones strews nduja over lunchtime pizzas with mozzarella and tomato. It also makes it onto pizza at Riccardo Momesso's Valentino in Hawksburn, where it sits like a big orange sausage on the antipasti bar, ready to be scooped out into bowls and served with bread. "We do warn people it's quite hot," manager Emily Quarrell says, "but they know that already, because it's listed as being Calabrian."
Distributor Sam Hurst of Savour & Grace stocks nduja from Sydney producer Quattro Stelle, and says interest in small-scale, cured and preserved produce is increasing. "People are eating smaller amounts of protein but wanting something really special," he says.
Why do I care?
Because it is a unique, regional, artisanal product unlike anything else and because it's really, really hot.
Can I do this at home?
Only if you have a high chilli threshold.
Pino's Dolce Vita Fine Foods, Shop 10, 45 President Avenue, Kogarah 9587 4818. Hudson Meats (various locations) and Blackwattle Deli, Sydney Seafood market, Pyrmont.
La Piadina, 106 Glenayr Avenue, Bondi Beach, 9300 0160
Balla, The Star, 80 Pyrmont Street, Pyrmont, 1800 700 700
Brunswick Street Alimentari (Fitzroy), McCoppins (Clifton Hill) and Bills Farm (Queen Victoria Market).
Savour & Grace, 9371 1111
Valentino, 517 Malvern Road, Hawksburn, 9826 8815
Gorski & Jones, 304 Smith Street, Collingwood, 9417 7779
Serve with drinks before dinner - or just slather nduja on grilled sourdough and top with a couple of fried eggs for a great weekend breakfast.
200g soft, spreadable nduja
150g fresh ricotta, drained
1 to 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Sourdough baguette, sliced
1 dozen quail eggs
1. Peel off and discard the skin of the nduja and whiz in a food processor with the ricotta, olive oil and sea salt until just combined. Add a touch more olive oil if you feel it needs it.
2. Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a frying pan and fry the quail eggs over medium heat for one minute.
3. Toast or grill the baguette slices, spread with nduja, top with a quail egg and serve.