Truffles. What are they exactly? I know they’re a fungus, but how many of us have actually had a real truffle? Not many, I’m sure. So in the interests of my dear readers I recently bought a piece of actual truffle to get to the bottom of the mystery, what is a truffle and are they really worthy of all the hoo-haa?
One Saturday afternoon walking past the Black Bull Butchery in Potts Point on my way to the Kings Cross Organic Markets I notice a sign: “Australian Truffles available here” in a scrawl on a piece of cardboard in the front window. I walk in and it’s a riot of people jostling for position in front of the main counter. I make my way to a corner looking for the truffles. I spot a little bag on a tray looking so forlorn. The last piece of truffle left. 5.30 grams of Australian Black Truffle:
As you can see, an expensive little morsel, working out to approximately $489.62 per 100grams. I can’t wait to get it home and finally smell the smell that everyone comments upon, apparently sex and stinky socks.
According to Truffles Australis:
The French Black Truffle is the fruiting body of the fungus Tuber Melanosporum that forms a symbiotic relationship with the roots of oak or hazel trees on which it grows. The edible portion, the truffle, is harvested in winter once it has matured and is emitting the sweet perfume it’s renowned for.
So we know that it’s a fungus and we know that it got a funky smell. It’s moment like these I wish we had smell-o-vision (not minties). When I finally get home and get to open it, things unknown suddenly make sense. What do I mean by that? All those times I’d eaten things with “truffle oil” or stuff of that nature, I now know what that element was. That unknown soft thing that floats around your mouth that is subtle and mild. A revelation in smell. Sex is right, or also a really smelly man who hasn’t bathed in some time..sweet, but stinky!
Yet what to do with it? Eggs. Simple scrambled eggs. I had some beautiful eggs perfect the job. I popped them in a jar with the truffle and left them overnight on my first attempt. Second attempt I left them for about 3 nights, two days. Leave them longer to get more of the delicate aroma to seep through the porous shell of the egg.
I don’t eat scrambled eggs often. No reason in particular, I just prefer poached (not that I’ve ever really successfully poached an egg!). But I do make a pretty mean scrambled egg. The key is not to overcook, and to be very gentle. Crack your truffled eggs in a bowl, with some full cream milk, or cream, a little pepper, no salt yet, and mix to combine. Heat a large heavy based fry pan with some good butter. When the butter foams, it’s good to go.
Pour your eggs into the pan and very gently draw through from the edges to the centre with a wooden spoon. As you do this, the uncooked egg should fill the gaps to gently cook. It should be curd like and glistening, not rubbery or foam like.
Once it’s done take off the heat pronto, you don’t want it to keep cooking…Make sure you have some super good sourdough on hand ready to toast. Don’t be like me and cut your hand open while hacking through my Brasserie Bread Reem-made epi roll! (if you want to see a picture of my cut hand click here but careful there’s blood!)
Toast your bread, pile your eggs on a plate, then gently grate or thinly slice your truffle over your eggs. Voila! Insanely luxe, scrambled eggs with truffles.
Verdict on the truffles: I was surprised that the flavour did not anywhere near match the intensity of the aroma. But it gave the eggs a softness that’s hard to describe. I can now successfully sniff out truffle oil, and think I could probably tell the difference between synthetic truffle oil and the real thing.
Is it worth the dollars? Maybe for a special occasion at home, but keep it simple. Don’t try anything complex. The flavour is so subtle you don’t want to be overpowering it at any stage or it’s simply a waste of money.
Truffles, yes. Get them now while they’re in season.