Truffle oil is meant to add to the flavour and aroma of a dish that already has truffles or pairs well with the fungus. It’s not meant to be used in copious amounts, but the be carefully and with thought. And since most truffle oils are synthetic, made of grapeseed, olive oil and artificial flavours, you really need to check the labels and watch what you’re buying.
Chefs have very different views on the “should you or shouldn’t you” debate when it comes to truffle oil. Martha Stewart famously said truffle oil ruins most recipes and doesn’t belong in anyone’s kitchen. Chef Ramsey almost kicked a woman off of Hell’s Kitchen for using truffle oil. (She could only stay if she promised never to use the ingredient again.) But it really comes down to personal preference. Taste it. If you like it, and as long as you’re not cooking for Stewart or Ramsey, just go for it.
First off: What’s a truffle?
Truffles are a fungus, like a mushroom, that grows underground. The taste is dependent on the type of tree it grows beside. Truffles are traditionally harvested by pigs, who naturally till the ground and can smell where the they are hiding. Still, truffles are seen as a delicacy, and can sell for $30 USD an ounce.
How should you use truffle oil?
The answer is sparingly. And make sure it’s the real deal, made from authentic truffles soaked in olive oil.
The main thing you should know is truffle oil is not for cooking. Heat alters its flavour, so it should only be a finishing oil. After your food is prepared, you can add truffle oil to taste. Don’t smother it on, drizzle it lightly. And once again based on personal preference, choose whether you use white or black oil. There’s no hard and fast rules; it’s for you to decide.
When should you use truffle oil?
As long as your meal pairs well with the flavour of truffles, it can also be paired with truffle oil. Especially if you're using real truffles in your meal, you want to add a little truffle oil to bring out the flavour.
Here are a few meals you might want to try:
- Use truffle oil in vinaigrette: If you’re making a fancier salad, combine a teaspoon or two of truffle oil with some olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. It tastes great on a salad with mushrooms, truffles, cheeses and cured meats.
- Use truffle oil over vegetables: You can drizzle some oil over cooked vegetables instead of butter or oil. It tastes great on starches, like potatoes, and greens, like asparagus.
- Use truffle oil on meat: Truffle oil can be used to finish a meat dish. It pairs especially well with fish filet, beef, filet mignon, duck or lamb.
- Use truffle oil on party snacks: If you’re serving home made after dinner snacks like popcorn, French fries, or potato chips, drizzle on a mixture of truffle, olive oil and salt.