Last night we hosted a Television celebrity who is an obvious truffle lover, and I served Japanese gyu (tri-tip) cooked sous vides at 58° degrees for 55 minutes. I always advocate cooking wagyu at higher temperatures to render the high fat content.
But the truffles, I never thought you could keep them so long and there is a good secret to helping it maintain the truffles’ energy. Over the holidays, I was speaking with a chef in Tokyo (LF) and he uses rice, as many do to keep truffles, but I noticed he uses newspaper and it all made perfect sense when i started to think about it. You are probably thinking, well every one keeps truffles in paper, and while it is often true it is important to evolve this idea further.
Rice when very cold is similar to ground, as it maintains a consistent cold, yet not too wet environment. Many people believe that keeping the truffle in rice enhances it, but I doubt it for several reasons. I guess this myth developed over the years of practice of trying to realize truffle aroma as a flavour enhancer, and if you leave it in contact with rice it should work.
but I cannot say it works in a risotto without some added shaved truffles, no doubt the volatile aromas of truffle are much more sensitive to heat than most consider. That’s why restaurants use truffle oil, and this is a good yet naughty way of gaining aroma momentum.
On a side note, I was at a three star Michelin restaurant and it will remain nameless. I ordered truffle risotto and it was “ouzing truffle” after they sliced the truffle at the table. I asked to see the chef, and as he was away, so the sous chef showed up to my table, and I asked him, ‘why did you use truffle oil on the risotto”?, and he was dumbfounded. He was young and said, “I only follow my chef/owner’s orders’ and it was clear he had no choice. But when I wrote the owner/chef to ask him, he denied to reply, and I guessed why. It wasn’t much longer after he was ranked top in the world.
So on my next visit to his restaurant I confronted his maitre d’hotel, whom I know and he said the sous chef used it without the owner’s knowledge. It is clear the chef/owner was cheating customers by using chemical oil and couldn’t face it. I could have been very harsh and exposed him but he is an excellent chef, so I let it go.
Recently, the same chef is using Alba truffle with butter – and he told a client (a friend) he soaks it in butter to get flavour strength. I still wonder why a chef would take any white truffle @ €4,000/kg and soak it in butter?
In the end, the challenge with white truffles is finding the balance between storing them and preserving their taste. The cold rice creates ands retains a concentrated volume of cold, but the rice the truffle should not touch the rice directly, or it will suck out the truffle’s moisture.
So the rice is an excellent idea if you use a paper and I prefer one that isn’t absorbent so your truffles maintain thir moisture and don’t forget avoid using a fridge that gets opened frequently to keep them uber cold.