Calabrian ’nduja is something of a fugitive food – though one that is captive at last. The chilli-spiced, spreadable pork sausage, a favourite in its homeland and used widely in Calabrian cooking, has been picked up in Britain and paraded as the greatest Italian food discovery since mozzarella.
‘Nduja holds two qualifications that make it a great speciality food: a palate-invading, sensory addictiveness, and an intriguing back story.
A third attribute – good-looking packaging – it lacks. Bound up with string in a section of pork intestine, stained red with peperoncino, its appearance is frankly alarming.
But thinly spread on toasted bread, used as a base for a stew or in a pasta dish with shellfish, it spreads its rich flavour and tingling spiciness in the subtlest way right into the part of the brain that stores the best memories of food. You will want more.
How’s your italiano…
N’duja-crusted cod with broccoli
Mixing N’duja sausage into a spiced paste is an easy way to jazz up cod or other white fish.
1 tbsp sultanas
2 tsp muscatel vinegar
1 slice white bread
4 tbsp finely chopped flatleaf parsley
1 tbsp capers, drained, finely chopped
2 anchovies, drained, finely chopped
1 egg, hard-boiled, cooked white only, finely chopped
½ tbsp fennel seeds
110g/4oz N’duja (spreadable French pork sausage)
300g/11oz broccoli, washed and trimmed into florets
4 x 175g/6oz cod fillets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely julienned
1 red chilli, finely julienned
1 tbsp pine nuts
- Soak the sultanas overnight in the vinegar.
- The next day, remove the sultanas from the vinegar using a slotted spoon and set aside. Soak the slice of bread in the same vinegar. When soaked, squeeze out any excess liquid.
- Pound the soaked bread, parsley, capers, anchovies, cooked egg white, fennel seeds and N’Duja in a pestle and mortar to a paste.
- Spread the paste between two sheets of greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge until firmed up.
- Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
- Blanch the broccoli florets in a pan of salted, boiling water for 3-4 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and set aside to cool.
- When the paste has firmed up, season the cod fillets on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut the layer of paste into four pieces that are the same size as each cod fillet. Place one on top of each piece of cod.
- Place the N’duja-crusted cod fillets onto a baking tray and roast in the oven for 6-8 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and fry the garlic and chilli until the garlic is golden-brown. Add the pine kernels, reserved soaked sultanas and the broccoli and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes, or until warmed through. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- To serve, spoon the broccoli mixture into the centre of four serving plates. Place one N’duja-crusted cod fillet on top of each portion.
- In a bowl, whisk together the pan juices and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until emulsified (well combined). Drizzle the sauce over the cod.