Named after the black toenails of the Iberian pig it comes from, pata negra is also known as Iberian ham, or jamon Iberico. The pigs are raised free-range on a diet of acorns and grain. The ham is cured with salt for a number of weeks, washed, and then aged for as long as 36 months.
You may not know this, but prosciutto is just a fancy, Italian word for ham. So Parma ham and prosciutto are the same thing, except it’s ham made under the designation of origin laws particular to the Parma region. For instance, the pigs there are sometimes fed leftover whey from Parmegianno Regianno cheese, giving the ham a nutty flavor.
What Americans call baloney and Italians call bologna, mortadella is a large, fat sausage that dates back to Roman times, the name possibly referring to the mortar used to grind the spices and meat together. You can recognize it from the large circumference of the slices as well as the widely-spaced squares of pork fat that stud the surface, taken usually from the pig’s neck.
This Calabrian cured sausage is akin to the French andouille, and it’s made from all the trimmings of the pig, such as the head, belly, entrails, skin, and more, mixed in with spices and red peppers. Sounds gross, but the result is a smooth, spreadable sausage that goes great on bread.
What distinguishes the Spanish chorizo from other cured pork sausages is the use of sweet or spicy Spanish paprika, depending on the type of chorizo, and sometimes wine. Chorizo can also sometimes be smoked. Don’t confuse this with Mexican chorizo, which uses dried chili peppers and is fresh, not cured, so it needs to be cooked.
This Calabrian pork sausage is essentially what Americans call pepperoni, though many European cultures have a word for dry, cured sausages. In France, for instance, they are called saucisson. A dry-cured, slightly fermented sausage, salami has a tangy flavor that other dried sausages lack. In the salami picante, additional pork fat, dried chillies and paprika are added. The most famous salami of the Calabria region is soppresata.
Italian for “nape of the neck”, coppa is a dry-cured sausage that comes from the neck and shoulder of the pig. It’s similar to prosciutto, though ham technically comes from the butt and thigh of the pig.
Not to be confused with carpaccio, this is paper-thin sliced beef cured in a dry spice rub of salt and nutmeg, cloves or other spices, depending on the producer, and then air-dried. Unlike many other sausages, bresaola is very lean and has no visible white fat streaks or dots. Try it with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
Similar to its Calabrian counterpart, Milanese salami is very popular, due in part to its pleasant, slightly sweet flavor. You can recognize it from its fine grain appearance: the white spots of pork fat in the sliced sausage are small and well-distributed.
#33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, 8 Marina Blvd., 6834-3133.
The chef’s discretion charcuterie plate comes with assorted cold cuts available on the day, such as bresaola, coppa, Iberico lomo and saucisson, as well as parma ham and salami. They even have pork rillettes to pair with pickled vegetables and their own beer.
46 Bukit Pasoh Rd., 6327-8378.
They do a platter of Italian parma ham, bresaola and mortadella ($24), that’s served with cornichons (pickled baby gherkins). In addition, they also boast a selection of homemade cold cuts such as coppa, salami and speck.
Stellar at 1-Altitude
62/F One Raffles Place, OUB Centre, 1 Raffles Place, 6438-0410.
One of the best platters in town in our book. Their charcuterie taster ($48) has an array of items including Jamon Serrano, 20-month parma ham and chorizo, served with homemade pickles, quince compote and rustic bread. They also make their own Wagyu beef bresaola. Or try the rabbit rillettes ($18).
Wine Connection Deli & Bistro
#01-05/06 Robertson Walk, 11 Unity St., 6238-6878.
If you happen to be in the area and are looking for a nibble, order one of their platters ($18) and a bottle of vino to go with. While their plates run on the basic side of things, with parma ham, sliced beef and honey-baked ham, it’s a good deal that you can supplement with cheese (if you fancy some dairy).