Most of us have heard of black truffles but many are unsure exactly what it is. The black truffle, or Pomacea nigrum, has long been a popular ingredient in many culinary recipes. I've learned that the wide variety of dishes made with this one ingredient go far beyond the humble caviar.
The black fungus or aromatic fungus was first found in the wild, being traded by the wealthy for many centuries before the advent of scientific methods to cultivate it. The humble caviar is known to be made from a type of truffle. This is a mold-like fungus known as Pomacea, which grows on the skin of the Prickly Pine Bark, a tree in the pine family. You will also find some of these on the bark of birch trees and Scotch broom, which grows in the oak family.
Traditionally, a truffle has been prepared by the boiling of a woody stem underwater. This causes the truffle to float and then later be peeled off. It is then stripped of its outer covering, known as mycelium, and used in various dishes such as stuffing, sauces, ice cream, and even coffee.
Truffles, or by extension, black truffles, are edible and are commonly added to cured meats, cheeses, and dips. They are also used in cooking. Common dishes include risotto, couscous, and seafood dishes.
When it comes to cooking, black truffle salt is a healthy way to add flavor and cut back on calories. There are many varieties of black truffle salt available for use in cooking.
Common and more expensive are those that contain high concentrations of monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is considered a dangerous ingredient because it can cause stomach irritation and gastric reflux disease. While a high concentration of monosodium glutamate is generally considered to be unhealthy, there are many other varieties that contain lesser amounts of MSG.
Traditionally, black truffle salt contains some form of sulfur. Some varieties contain black pepper and others may also contain herbs. I prefer the ones that do not have any additives of any kind and have no taste or smell at all.
The fungi that grow in this particular variety of mushrooms have a unique flavor that adds a certain amount of spiciness to dishes. The flavors are deep and heavy and have a wonderful taste that can be combined with almost any type of food. Since these mushrooms are found in abundance in Italy, they are very common in Italian dishes.
Sauteed in olive oil, their aromatic nature adds great flavor to sauteed vegetables. They are a wonderful addition to salads and soups and make for a terrific accompaniment for fish and shellfish.
A tasty meal idea is to take a fresh black truffle and sprinkle it over some chicken salad. This will be a natural choice for anyone who loves to cook since truffles are also very low in calories. Then toss in some crumbled feta cheese and top with chives.
Another great thing about truffles is that they can be frozen and stored. Just defrost them, wrap in plastic wrap, and place in your freezer, and you can pop them out when you want them, and they will still have that wonderful taste when you thaw them out later.
Even though I don't have much experience in the kitchen, the first time I tried to prepare a dish with black truffle salt I was really impressed. With so many different options, I'm sure that everyone can find a recipe that would benefit from using black truffle salt.