Black truffles are a superlative type of truffle that you should be aware of. They are the brainchild of a Japanese chef who took a black truffle from a dead sea bird and used it to make a new variety of truffle with a light golden tint. The name truffle comes from the Spanish word “trucha” which is translated as ‘soil’.
Black truffles have an affinity for damp places. It is this property that enables them to thrive and grow in moist and dark areas. When you cook truffles you are basically cooking the fungus that is able to live in damp conditions. If you cook truffles before they get fully dried out they become brittle and lose their flavour and sharpness.
Black truffles are best used as a garnish or added to sauces to enhance the flavours. Their silky texture makes them ideal for finishing dishes like caviar, lobster and macaroni. As truffles taste bitter they cannot be eaten by people suffering from a sensitivity to strong flavours like liquorice and chocolates.
There are many different varieties of truffles you can use but the most popular and well known is the Tarte Flamme, Caiu, Teff and Amoroso. You will need to use some of each variety for a unique flavour.
Tarte Flamme is made by taking the small pieces of the fungus that have become dormant after the fishing and drying process. These pieces of fungus have not been exposed to sunlight and decay easily. The Tarte Flamme is still picked in the day when it is still a bit bright red. This is when the best truffles are harvested, as they are still fresh.
When you use black truffle salt as a garnish, you are actually adding other minerals to the salt, which will then react with the flavour of the truffles to give them a unique flavour. You can use this method to add flavour to a recipe that requires garnishing, or you can add a salt and pepper mixture to a recipe. Adding this to a dish also enhances the mineral content of the dish.
Caiu and Teff are a lighter variety of truffles and require less black truffle salt as they do not absorb minerals from the salt. These two varieties are known for their skin colouring and dark veins that develop on the surface of the fungus. They are a little bit more expensive to buy but there is a lot of culinary talent that goes into making them.
Amoroso is a different range of truffles and their longevity is what gives them their rich flavour. The dark colour of this variety of truffle is due to the black pigment that they have released in their fungus.
It is important to use the right amount of black truffle salt to complement the flavours of your recipes. Remember that black truffles should not be used in dishes that have been seasoned with other types of spices.
You must avoid using this as a garnish on high-quality food that has a lot of flavours. These could contain ingredients that are high in acid and that could overpower the beautiful and delicate flavour of the truffles. Instead, use it in recipes where you would like to create a bold and powerful flavour.
For those of you that wish to explore truffles without spending too much time and money, but want to get the most flavour and freshness possible out of the fungi, then you may want to experiment with natural black truffle salt that comes from the forests of Provence in France. You can buy this salt from specialist bakers and retailers that sell only to chefs.
Look online to find great bakers that will sell you the black truffle salt that you need, which will also let you keep any fresh truffles you buy. Just take care not to leave any truffles outside for long as they may dry out.