Oyster mushrooms and buckwheat porridge with miso, seaweed and truffle
Black truffles, or Tuber melanosporum, are kicking.
The first frosts have hit our truffle-producing regions, promoting maturity in the subterranean fungi. While prices are intimidating – per kilogram they can cost many thousands of dollars – thankfully only a few grams are required to experience what the truffle has to give.
Much like any fresh ingredient, a truffle can be a fraud. Summer truffles out of Europe or Asia can be completely devoid of flavour or aroma. And don’t even get me started on the often chemically derived truffle aromatised oils.
The two premium varieties are the black or the white (Tuber magnatum) of Alba, Italy.
While Australia is fairly new to truffle production, in a short period our conditions and practices have been delivering a world-class product. There is a lot of posturing as to which state is producing the best varieties, but I use Tasmanian truffles purely on the basis of having visited the farm there and having participated in the truffle-gathering.
The fungi grows indirectly from a tree root – generally hazelnut – and in Australia these roots come from immature trees inoculated in Europe and imported for planting into orchards.
There are a few things to bear in mind when using truffles. Most of the sensation of truffle is olfactory, so if it is stored poorly in an unsealed container or is simply too old, you may as well shave cardboard over your dish. Expensive cardboard, though!
The scent of truffle that translates on the tongue is best delivered with very thin shavings over a warm ingredient with complementary flavours. Fat is also necessary to carry the flavour across the palate, so be liberal with your butter or cream.
Complementary flavours for truffle are sweetness, earthiness and umami, hence why this dish delivers it all for me. The addition of cultured butter as opposed to regular butter may seem a folly, but that little hint of sourness really helps to lift the earthiness of the truffle in this dish alongside the miso and lemon.
- 200g buckwheat
- 600ml dashi stock (instant)
- 60g cultured butter
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 20g white miso
- 15ml lemon juice
- 300g oyster mushrooms
- vegetable oil spray
- 2 sheets nori (dried seaweed)
- 20g black truffle (optional)
- Soak the buckwheat in chilled water for 30 minutes prior to cooking.
- Prepare the dashi stock in hot water in a separate pot.
- Place half the butter and the garlic in a heavy-based pot and sweat for a couple of minutes over a low heat, without allowing the garlic to brown.
- Add the soaked buckwheat and stir through, then add the dashi stock. Cook the buckwheat out until the liquid is mostly absorbed.
- Finish the buckwheat with the miso, lemon juice and the remaining butter. Adjust the porridge for salt and let it rest.
- Spray the oyster mushrooms with the oil, then grill the whole hand of fungi over coals (if possible), or alternatively cook in a pan over medium heat.
- Toast the nori sheets lightly over an open flame then grind using either a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder.
- Spoon the buckwheat into the middle of two plates, top with the nori and then shave the truffle over the top.
- Place the grilled mushrooms on top and, if desired, serve with more lemon on the side.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on July 31, 2021 as "Toil and truffle".
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