Stomach lining, kidneys, pancreas — these spare parts, or offal, are all items that have become increasingly common to the pop-culinary world. Blood, however, is first getting its footing in the nose-to-tail game.
There are a few uses that are popping up on menus including canard à la presse (duck that’s been pressed to release its “juices” and then served in the fluid that it gave up) and, more often, blood sausage.
Blood sausage is certainly not a new invention. It’s a foodstuff that’s been served around the globe for centuries but, perhaps because of our country’s squeamishness, it’s yet to make inroads into popular cuisine. That’s about to change. In preparation, we’ve compiled a primer on some International varieties of the dark, funky, iron-packed tube steak.
Italy: In Tuscany, biroldo is the traditional blood-based salumi. Pork blood-based, you may find it spiked with raisins, pine nuts and cinnamon or flavored with fennel. They can also be found under the name sanguinaccio.
England: Though the name black pudding may recall images of Jell-O cups and watered down versions of chocolate mousse, don’t be fooled — in England, black pudding refers to hemoglobin, oat and pig’s blood patties. It is a popular inclusion in the filling English breakfast.
France: Boudin noir is popular in the French canon of charcuterie. These links often offer a double dose of apple: it can be in both the filling as well as served alongside. Sometimes it is in a cold preparation but is more often heated through in the United States. Although it is typically pork-based, varieties utilizing game meat can be found.
Germany: Similar to French boudin noir, Germany’s blutwurst is pre-cooked and dried. It’s likely to come to the table sliced, revealing a cross-section of speckled chunks of meat suspended in dried blood, or warm with apple sauce. In the Rhineland, it is fried and made up of horse meat.
Spain/Portugal: They may be separated by one vowel but, in essence Spain’s morcilla and Portugal’s morcella refer to the same thing — sausage stuffed with a combination of meat, rice and blood. The variations on this theme, however, are endless. Each region boasts its own specialty, either swapping out an ingredient (onion instead of rice) or adding its own unique flavorings. The sizes can vary from pinky thin to clenched fist large. It can be found on the menu at any meal and a sweet version, morcilla dulce, can even be had in the Canary Islands.
Sweden/Finland: Sweden’s blood sausage (blodkorv) and blood pudding (blodpudding) are considered a delicacy and can be found in both cake and link form. They are served with sweet accompaniment like beets or lingonberry jam, as is Finland’s mustamakkara. However, mustamakkara is more of a blood sausage pancake and it traditionally contains rye.
Eastern Europe: In Estonia, it’s not Christmas-time without verivorstid (verivorst) on the table. And although kishka is popular nomenclature for the buckwheat kasha–stuffed specimens found around Eastern Europe, you’d be wise to know that it could be under the name jaternica in Slovakia, asisnsdesa in Latvia or kaszanka in Poland.
South America and Mexico: In Mexico and Nicaragua it’s moronga and in Chile it’s referred to as ñache, but below Texas you’ll find that most blood sausage resembles Spain’s morcilla (in fact, it’s known by the same name in most countries including Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador). Often prepared on the barbecue, it might be seasoned with local herbs, spices or other flavorings to accommodate regional salty and/or spicy preferences or even chocolate, peanuts and dried fruit. It is not uncommon to find them as a sandwich filler.
Asia: The New York Times’ Ligaya Mishan describes the Sichuan peppercorn–tinged Tibetan “purplish-black blood sausage, gyuma ngoe ma” from Queens, New York restaurant Phayul as “at once crumbly and wet.” On the opposite side of the spectrum, Korea’s sundae (or soondae) features an animal’s intestines (cow or pig) which is stuffed, most typically with a mixture of cellophane noodles and barley, which serve to soak up the dark blood, and sometimes kimchi, perilla leaves or soybean paste for flavor. Xue doufou translates to blood tofu and is China’s skinless variation. In pinoy, dugo means blood and dinuguan refers to the pork and blood soup popular in Filipino cuisine.
Read more about sausage on Food Republic: