09 Jul Do the Truffle
It’s one of the world’s most prized ingredients, and some varieties sell for thousands of dollars (or more). But when you look at a truffle it’s hard to tell what all the fuss is about. So why are these lumpy morsels so popular?
Truffles are the fruit of several species of subterranean tuber, a type of fungus that grows at the roots of trees. The white truffle is found in northern Italy, as well as parts of Slovenia, Croatia and France; its pale flesh is the most valuable, with specimens sometimes fetching tens of thousands of dollars per kilogram. The black truffle is grown more widely, including in Australia – we are currently the world’s fourth largest producer, with black truffles even grown on a small scale in Queensland’s Granite Belt. These are harvested in the colder months, which means it’s the perfect time to taste.
Truffles have a pungent, earthy aroma and an intense mushroom flavour, often described as a combination of musty and sweet. Truffles blend with and intensify other flavours in a dish, which means you can use them quite sparingly: grated over scrambled eggs or mashed potato, or in a simple risotto or pasta sauce. You can buy them from dedicated online retailers or specialty stores, but if truffle flesh seems a little too extravagant opt for a good-quality black truffle oil or salt instead.