Truffles are becoming more popular and commonly known among the general public as a highly prized and sought after edible mushroom. No longer are they just a mysterious fungi that people get confused with the ones of the chocolate variety.
Well this appears to be the case in Perth, with Perth diners tucking into more truffles than diners in Melbourne and Sydney combined and a record number of people attended the recent Mundaring Truffle Festival.
Not everyone is a fan though. I’ve noticed a love-hate relationship with truffles. Some people love it and have an euphoria for them, while others don’t see it as anything special, and don’t understand why people would spend several thousand dollars per kilo on it. Don’t people have better things to spend their money on? Are truffles overrated? How can something that basically looks like a turd and is described by some as smelling like dirt, old socks and sex, also be considered one of the most amazing foods in the world with chefs gushing over it like it’s a baby? You will often hear the expression “you can never have too much truffle” get thrown around. Listening to people who love eating truffles talk about them can be like listening to someone who is in a drug induced state sometimes. Truffles are strangely alluring and can also be addictive. Similar to the drug market, truffles are scarce and attract high prices. A CBS News 60 Minutes report earlier this year exposed a black market for truffles, where they are being trafficked like drugs, stolen by thugs, and threatened by inferior imports from China (watch here).
What do you think of truffles? Are you a fan of them?
Put me unashamelessly in the truffle lover camp. I’m one of those people that finds the aroma of truffles intoxicating and I love how the addition of truffles can enhance and intensify the flavour of a dish.
My first taste of truffles this year was at Cantina in June where I ordered their special truffle breakfast which had cheesey toast, mushroom puree, slow cooked egg, walnuts and parsley. The dish was around $20 without truffles and $30 with a generous shaving of truffles on top. The addition of truffles to the dish brought it to another level and I couldn’t imagine having it without the truffles.
|(Photo of the Cantina breakfast that I took on my phone)|
I bought a truffle at the Mundaring Truffles Festival and one of things I wanted to do with it was recreate the breakfast that I had at Cantina.
So here is my truffle breakfast, it’s not the same as Cantina’s but it has similar elements - Slice of bread with truffle butter that I got from the July Urban Locavore box, sautéed mushrooms, rocket, a slow poached egg and truffles shaved over the top.
This was the first time that I have cooked a slow-poached egg. I used a method that I read about in the Momofuku cookbook where eggs are cooked using a Japanese technique – onsen style. Onsen in Japanese means hotsprings which the public bathe in. Using this method, the eggs are slowly cooked in their shells in hot water at 62-64C for about 45 minutes, so they are essentially just soaking in a hot bath. The result is an egg which has a just set texture, almost jelly like.
It’s probably the simplest way to poach an egg to guarantee an outcome that will be soft, creamy and ooze over whatever you put it on top of, however, it’s a little time consuming and you have to watch the temperature carefully. The good thing is that you can slow-poach a few eggs at a time and keep some in the fridge for up to 24 hours and reheat in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes before consuming.
I have a thermometer but not one that you can clip onto the side of your pot. So I had to come up with a way to prop up the thermometer so that I wouldn’t be stuck holding it for 45-50 minutes while the eggs cooked. First I tried a fork but it wasn’t very stable, then I found a bottle opener in my draw which I balanced on the handle of the pot and it was quite secure. So I have discovered a new kitchen innovation while making this dish and I think that my bottle opener will come in handy for other things in the future besides opening bottles.
When my friend saw what I had done, he told me that I was just like my mother. I was a bit confused by this statement at first but then realized that he must be referring to this.
Sometimes when I walk into the kitchen of my parents house I find my mum doing some random things like using a chilli sauce bottle to keep chicken simmering in master stock submerged. It’s genius right?
(Recipe adapted from Momofuku – I used large eggs instead of medium eggs so cooked them at a slightly higher temperature and for a longer time than specified in the recipe from the book)
- Remove eggs from fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking so that they are at room temperature.
- Fill a large pot with water and put it on the lowest setting on your stove so that you can maintain the lowest possible heat.
- Use something (a cake rack or steamer rack) to keep the eggs from sitting on the bottom of the pot where it will be directly on the heat source and be exposed to the highest temperatures.
- Use a thermometer to monitor the temperature in the pot, heat the water to between 62C - 64C degrees, add the eggs into the pot. Let them slowly cook for 45-50 minutes, checking the temperature regularly on the thermometer. If it’s too hot you can add cold water, ice cubes or turn off the heat for a bit and then back on again until the heat is reduced to the right temperature range.
- To serve, gently crack open the egg and slowly slide out onto a small saucer or plate. Tip the dish to pour off and discard the loosest part of the white, then slide the egg onto whatever dish you want.
- When you first put the eggs in, you may need to increase the heat a bit as the addition of the eggs may drop the water’s temperature.
- You can test the eggs by taking one out after 45 minutes of cooking and cracking it open to see how cooked it is, if it looks like it needs a bit more time, cook it for a few more minutes.
- If planning on storing slow-poached eggs in the refrigerator, chill them in an ice-water bath first.
Here are some of my other truffle recipes:
- Truffle Fries
- Truffle Scrambled Eggs - Two Ways
- Truffle Honey Panna Cotta
- Truffle Pasta with Alfredo Sauce and Sauteed Mushrooms
- Truffle Congee with Dried Scallops
- Seared Scallops on Celeriac Puree with Truffle
- French Toast with Truffle Cheese