Often when we think of cured meat, the term that comes to mind is usually salami. However, did you know that this word refers to a specific variety of ground and cured meat, while the similar- sounding salumi describes Italian cured meats as a whole? All salami are salumi, but not all salumi are salami.
Within that category of salumi are about 300 to 600 variations of meat, and while many are similar, each one is associated with a specific region in Italy and reflects that area’s unique cultural circumstances and development. When you take a bite of sopressa, you’re experiencing hundreds of years of Venetian history.
We can categorise salumi into roughly two categories: salami (sausage) and whole salumi. Let’s start with the first one!
Every salami consists of seasoned, fermented and air-dried or smoked pork. The small differences within this process are what have given rise to the countless variations of salami across different regions and countries.
Here are some of our favourites:
A product of the northeast regions of Italy, Sopressa is a dried and pressed salami that’s very soft and has a high fat content. Produced with pork primarily from the leg and shoulder, it’s blended with spices like cinnamon, cloves and rosemary, but hotter variations with pepper are also common.
Sopressa is perfect with freshly baked bread in the morning! It also grills excellently, and pairs well with polenta.
Named after the central Italian village from which it originated, Felino is a dried salami seasoned with salt, black peppercorns, white wine and garlic. Made from pork shoulder and pork belly, it has a sweet taste and light aroma.
While Felino is delicious on its own, it also goes perfectly with crumbly Parmigiano – they’re both from the same region – and a pale ale.
A fermented and dried specialty from Calabria, ‘Nduja is unique in that it’s so soft that it’s spreadable – which comes from a very high fat-to-muscle ratio. It’s also exceptionally hot – with almost a third of its weight being chillies, which contribute to its signature, bright red appearance!
Try balancing red hot ‘Nduja with a light and creamy cheese and a fruity white wine. It’s also a great way to infuse boldness into seafood dishes.
Meaning “hunter” in Italian, dried Cacciatore is a simple salami that can have a wide range of ingredients and preparations – because it isn’t tied to a particular region. It’s called “cacciatore” because it was often carried as a snack while hunting – thanks to its small size. Visco stocks both mild and spicy varieties.
Cacciatore is a quintessential antipasto salami – with a taste profile that lends itself to a variety of cheeses and to olives.
Although not strictly a ‘salami’ – because its origin is from Spain rather than Italy – Chorizo is an extremely popular fermented and smoked sausage that gets its distinctive flavour from its primary spice: paprika. Some types are semi-cured, which means that they still need to be cooked before eating.
Chorizo is wonderful in cooking. It can infuse any Mediterranean dish – like pasta or paella – with a rich, smokey flavour.
One of the most loved dried salami, Tuscan Finocchiona can trace its origins back to the Middle Ages. It’s crumbly in texture and typically made from pork shoulder and cheek. It’s primary characteristic is that it’s combined with fennel and garlic, which provide a distinct smell and taste.
You’ll find that Finocchiona, goat cheeses and simple crackers are a trio made in heaven that will be crowd pleasers at any gathering.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to salami. Create an antipasto platter to try the
different types and discover your favourite. See more variants here at Visco, and open your taste buds to a new world of flavour!