How To Use Summer Truffles, A Luxurious Value
Courtesy of Phaedra Cook
Black summer truffles have arrived, and there’s nothing better to add delicate, earthy flavor to the bounty of the season. These are not only prized for their delicate aroma and flavor, but also for being a great value—especially when compared with the more precious and scarce black winter truffles. Our black summer truffles are $30 per ounce as compared to $67 per ounce for the most recent crop of black winters truffles. (Prices are for retail sale; please inquire about wholesale pricing.)
Summer truffles represent a whole lot of “bang for the buck.” When these reach maturity, the aromas and flavors are reminiscent of hazelnuts, chocolate, and vanilla.
“We love the aroma and taste,” says chef Arturo Osorio of Amerigo’s Grill in The Woodlands, a suburban area just outside of Houston. “When we slice summer truffles here, the whole kitchen smells good. We primarily use these in risotto, but sometimes customers also want them shaved onto fish and pasta dishes.”
Chef and restaurateur Marco Wiles also offers the “truffles on demand”service at Italian fine dining establishment Da Marco in Houston’s Montrose District. “I always have tagliolini, risotto or just about anything you want a shaving on top!” he said. In fact, Wiles offers summer truffles at all his restaurants. His more casual Dolce Vita has truffle egg toast on the menu, while neighborhood staple Poscol features a seductive fontina, prosciutto and black truffle grilled cheese.
The scientific name is tuber aestivum and these are usually in season from April to mid-September. The dark exterior is a little lighter in color than winter truffles and the interior is a warm, golden color. Summer truffles are categorized separately from Burgundy ones, but they are the same species. These get their trademark scent, flavor and color thanks to being harvested from the roots of trees in areas of France, Italy and Spain that are near the Mediterranean sea. After being harvested, the truffles are quickly shipped to retain peak freshness.
Because of the value and approachable flavor, summer truffles are as perfect for novices who are just getting into truffles as for chefs who look forward to using them liberally in their dishes. The crunchy texture makes black summer truffles a lively addition to salads and vegetables. Grilled and roasted meats, like chicken and steak, get even more luxurious once topped with shaved truffle.
Shaved summer truffles are also outstanding on pasta, egg, risotto and cheese dishes. These are so easy to use, too: just shave with a vegetable peeler or cut thinly—no cooking or special preparation required! At such a great value, there’s no reason to not experiment.
Want to try this at home? Central Market, a retailer of our truffles, has provided two easy recipes developed by their chefs. See below, and enjoy your own summer truffle adventure!
Lobster Medallions with Herbed and Truffle Butter Sauce
This very simple preparation makes a dazzling starter for a fancy dinner party.
1 1/2-pound lobster
1 bottle (750 milliliters) dry white wine
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
15 grams fresh black truffle
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon (or you may use any fresh herb of your choice)
- Choose a pot in which the lobster fits snugly and fill it halfway with cold water. Add the wine, and bring mixture to a boil. Add the lobster, cover, return water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until just done, about 12 minutes.
2. While the lobster is cooking, melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the truffle and tarragon. Heat for 1 minute.
3. Remove the tail meat from the lobster and cut into 1/4-inch slices. Arrange the slices on 4 plates, and intersperse them with slices of warmed black truffle. Remove meat from the lobster claws, cut meat in half horizontally, and arrange, cut side down, next to the tail meat. Drizzle all with herbed butter. Serve immediately.
Carpaccio of hand dived scallops with truffle vinaigrette
12 fresh hand dived scallops, alive in the shell
4 Jerusalem artichokes
1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
1 tbsp of water
1 tbsp of egg yolk
1 tbsp of black truffle oil
8 tbsp of vegetable oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
ground black pepper
12 thin chive batons
1 handful of salad mâche leaves
1 black truffle
- Remove the scallops from shell, detach the muscle and chain from the meat and discard
- Wash the scallops in iced water and place onto a clean cloth on a tray. Refrigerate for a couple of hours until the scallops start to firm up in the fridge
- Peel the Jerusalem artichokes and slice into rounds about 3mm thick. Place into a pan with enough water just to cover, add some salt and bring quickly to the boil
- Refresh in iced water. The artichokes need to retain some crunch to give the dish a little texture
- Make the dressing by whisking the egg yolk, vinegar and water together in a bowl
- Add a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper then gradually whisk in the oils until the dressing emulsifies like a light mayonnaise. Season with a squeeze of lemon juice and more salt and pepper if required
- To assemble the dish, slice the scallops about 2mm thick and lay them neatly onto four plates. Season with a little salt and lemon juice
- Pour a little of the truffle dressing over the scallops, distributing it with the back of a spoon to create a thin even coating
- Sprinkle the blanched artichokes and chives over the scallops and finish off with a few mâche leaves. If in season, grate some black truffle over the top