Time for truffles
Updated: 2013-04-28 08:03
By Pauline D. Loh and Guo Anfei (China Daily)
Chinese truffles are not heavily scented and most Chinese diners prefer their truffles cooked or slightly blanched, Pauline D. Loh and Guo Anfei talk to a chef in Yunnan who treats truffles the Chinese way.
The truffle in modern Chinese cuisine is a relatively new ingredient and its treatment often differs from that in the West, according to executive chef Wang Chuanshu, of the Yeyahu, or Wild Swan Lake Resort in Kunming.
Thick slices of Chinese truffles are infused in Chinese wine and served as an aperitif to wake the taste buds. Photos by Guo Anfei / China Daily
The chef says he has been using Yunnan truffles since about 2005 and has spent considerable time mulling the best and most delicious methods of using the precious fungi in his menu.
Wild Swan Lake is an upmarket villa resort to the southwest of the capital city of Yunnan province, and caters exclusively to a gourmet clientele.
Chef Wang says while the Chinese truffles are not as heavily scented as the Perigord black or Italian white truffles, their more subtle perfume works well in Chinese cuisine. Also, most Chinese diners prefer their truffles cooked or slightly blanched, to soften the woody texture of the raw truffle.
At the restaurant at Yeyahu, the chef has highlighted the medicinal benefits of truffles, including their aphrodisiacal qualities.
Hence, thick slices of truffles are infused in Chinese wine and served as an aperitif to wake the taste buds and set the mood.
Another popular order, the chef says, is a clear consomm of chicken, baby abalone and truffles, double-boiled in the traditional Yunnan funnel claypot. The result is a subtly perfumed chicken broth that is probably one of the best-tasting tonics to promote a calm disposition and better sleep.
Chef Wang says that as more Chinese get familiar with the taste of truffles, the fungi will become even more popular. Apart from the demand for fresh truffles in season in December, the all-year supply of chilled or dried truffle slices will also rise.
Already, truffle oil and truffle salt are becoming standard condiments in the modern Chinese chef's mise en place.