Truffles are tiny white or gray mushrooms. They are the world's second most consumed mushroom by weight. It can be found in France, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, the United States, and many more countries. There are over two hundred species altogether. And the most prized among them are the British and French varieties.
A truffle is actually the fruiting reproductive body of a tiny subterranean ascomycete mushroom, primarily one of the Ascomycan group of fungi. There are also many other species of fungi in this family, including Geopora and several others, which are sometimes classified separately. Geopora is the variety that produces red or black truffles. The other varieties have shades of yellow or gray.
This small and beautiful mushroom has been used in Italy for hundreds of years as a seasoning for meat, fish, poultry dishes, cheese, and desserts. In fact, black truffle sea salt is a famous culinary seasoning in its own right, used not only for the original flavor but also as a preservative for canned goods. This has long been the case with truffle oil, too, which has proven popular for use on grilled foods and as a bread topping.
The versatility of truffle salt is perhaps its greatest asset. You can use it on just about any type of food or dish, from appetizers to main courses, from desserts to snacks, and everything in between. Its use extends past the culinary boundaries, as well. It's often used as a soil additive or added to flower arrangements for that extra flowery touch. The possibilities seem almost endless.
Traditionally, Italian black truffles are made by smoking the seeds until they're blackened, then grinding them. Today, many cooks utilize Sicilian sea salt, as well, which makes it a less expensive substitute. In any event, when using Sicilian sea salt, you'll want to use the high-quality product, otherwise, you may end up with a salty, flavor-free blend instead of the rich, creamy, distinctive flavor you're looking for.
Truffle salt French fries are notoriously salty, so even the most seasoned chef will find that adding a little bit of it can go a long way in adding flavor to this popular dish. Just sprinkle a little on top and brown the fry briefly before placing it on your plate. If you're looking for a more intense flavor, sprinkle the top with some more coarsely ground Sicilian sea salt. You can also use honey or a combination of both for a different, but equally delicious, taste. Other ingredients you can use to spice up this favorite are garlic and fresh herbs such as Rosemary or thyme. Other great additions to the mix can be dried fruit, especially raspberries, or just crushed nuts.
Truffle salt can also be used on beef that has been cured in order to add that wonderfully salty taste to the steak. When buying your salt, make sure that it's a fine grade and doesn't have any additives such as coloring. Many people will purchase a bag of regular table salt, pour a couple of tablespoons or so into a mixing bowl, and mix it with a tablespoon or two of dry mustard. This allows the flavors in the steak to meld nicely with the mustard and the regular salt.
Truffle salts are also wonderful additions to other dishes, such as vegetable dishes or cheese. The earthy flavor they add is perfect to compliment the natural flavors in many of these healthy dishes. For example, you can make a very tasty pasta sauce using mushrooms, onion, and garlic. You can also turn a grilled piece of meat into a scrumptious piece of raw cheese by grilling only on the outside, then wrapping it in a foil-covered basket and cooking it inside the foil. It will be delicious and nutritious all at the same time.