Truffle Oil and Truffle Salt:
Truffles are similar to mushrooms, in that they are fungi. Unlike mushrooms, truffles grow underground and do not have a root system. They rely on animals eating them to distribute their spores. They only grow along the roots of specific trees, in very specific regions. They are found – never cultivated – the growing season is very short. They are found or foraged for by specially trained dogs and pigs who hunt for the smell. As of yet man has not found a reliable way to have a “truffle farm” so they are very rare.
Truffles have a rough outer skin and look a little like a potato. They are small: about the size of a marble or a golf ball. Fresh truffles are crazy stupid expensive. Sadly, the average home cook will never use a fresh truffle … or maybe it’s just me. I will most likely never use a fresh truffle. If we were bazillionaires maybe I would use them. Then I guess I would not be an average home cook anymore. So if I want to use truffles, I have to buy them in either a truffle salt or a truffle oil form to feed my craving for these little nuggets of deliciousness!
I think the first thing you notice about either the truffle oil or the truffle salt is the smell! So rich, so intense, so yummy.
Truffles taste earthy, much like mushrooms do. They have a rich, deep, musky, almost peppery smell, with hints of mild garlic and sweet onion. The smell is what brings you in. When you use a little truffle oil in a dish the first thing you want to do is breathe deep… and then breathe deep again.
The smell is intoxicating. Before you even take a bite, you have tasted and savored what you are about to eat. There are so many ways to use either the truffle oil or truffle salt. I use the truffle salt in my lemon vinaigrette, on eggs, in tomato soup and in tuna fish salad. The oil is great in pasta noodles, in gravy, on mashed potatoes, or on french fries. These are both “outside the box” ingredients… meaning the sky is the limit! Let your imagination and your taste buds lead the way!
Where to buy (well, where I buy):
Local (brick and mortar): Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, or any specialty food store (like Whole Foods, William-Sonoma, Sur La Table, etc.)