Truffles, or tartufo are a fungus that grow on or near-surface of the roots of trees, particularly oak trees, and have been used in Greek kitchens since ancient times. Nowadays you can find these yummy and good-for-you fungi in a variety of dishes throughout Greece and all around the world, including a varied-version of an oyster and truffle dish from 4th century Greece!
Let’s look at some essential information you need to know before purchasing your truffles and cooking up this fabulous dish.
Where to Find the Best Quality Truffles:
Want to try some for yourself? Beware, there are impostures out there where some suppliers mix lesser quality Chinese truffles together with French and Italian ones and sell it at a premium.
Be sure that you get pure, exceptional quality when you purchase truffles, after all, it is considered to be one of the most expensive foods out there! Check out Truffles USA at www.trufflesusa.com where you will find selected Italian truffles that are imported from central Italy and everything from gift baskets with complete meals and instructions to various truffle products.
Alex Vacca, the owner of Truffles USA explained to Greek Reporter that the truffles he selects for his company to import are only of the highest quality and that the rising interest in truffles across the globe is one that he welcomes.
“I loved truffles all of my life,” Alex told Greek Reporter. “While living in the United States, I started looking for them and everyone thought I was talking about ice-cream.”
These nutrient-rich fungi are the furthest from ice-cream that you can get! They have “benefits to the immune system” and in ancient times in Greece they were believed to be an “aphrodisiac,” Alex added.
Now You Have Your Truffle, Let’s Get Cooking!
Let’s look at a varied-version of an ancient Greek recipe with oysters served with truffles that is a time-tested favorite Greek dish dating back to the 4th century BC! It’s healthy and sumptuous and you are sure to enjoy it.
What You Need:
12 large fresh oysters
1 cup coarse sea salt
1 fresh black truffle (about 1 ounce; 30 g), cleaned
1/4 cup truffle cream (see recipe below)
About 1 tablespoon truffle juice
2 teaspoons butter, truffled, if available
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
How to Make Truffle Cream:
Makes 2 cups
What you need: A jar with a lid.
5 tablespoons minced fresh black truffle peelings
2 cups heavy cream
If you don’t have truffle cream available, you can easily make it on your own. Just combine the truffles and cream in a jar with the lid tightly closed and shake it to blend. Refrigerate for at least 2 days before using to let the flavors blend and mature. Note: The mixture will stay fresh, stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for 1 week.
The Main Dish:
1. Open the oysters, cut the muscle to extract it from the shell, and place the sieve over a small saucepan to filter the oyster liquor into the pan.
2. Cover the bottom of a ovenproof serving dish large enough to hold the oysters in a single layer. Cover the bottom of the dish with thin layer of coarse salt. Place the opened oysters in their shells on the bed of salt to keep them stable. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, at which time the oysters will give off a second, even more flavorful oyster liquor.
3. Meanwhile, arrange a rack in the oven about 5 inches from the heat source and preheat the broiler.
4. With a vegetable peeler, peel the truffle and mince the truffle peelings. Place the minced peelings in the small jar, and tighten the lid. Reserve the peelings for another use (i.e. to make truffle salt or truffle butter). With a very sharp knife, cut the truffle into thick slices and then cur those slices into matchsticks.
5. In the saucepan containing the reserved oyster liquor, add the cream and truffle juice and bring to a simmer over low heat. Then, whisk the butter and the lemon juice into the sauce vigorously to give it volume. If the sauce appears too thick you can thin it with additional truffle juice. Add half the truffle matchsticks and warm them slightly – be sure not to actually cook them.
6. Spoon the sauce over the oysters. Place the baking dish under the broiler and cook 20-25 seconds, or until the oysters are warmed.
7. Cover 4 plates with sea salt to keep the oysters stable. Arrange 3 of the oysters on each plate. Garnish the tops of the oysters with the remaining truffle matchsticks. Serve and enjoy!