Truffle oil is a modern culinary ingredient, used to impart the flavor and aroma of truffles to a dish.
Most truffle oils are not made from actual truffles, but are a synthetic product that combines a thioether (2,4-dithiapentane), one of numerous aromas or odorants found in truffles, with an olive oil or grapeseed oil base. As with pure olive oils, these range from clear to cloudy, and yellow to green.
Truffle oil is commonly used to make "truffle fries," which feature French fries tossed in truffle oil, Parmesan cheese, pepper, and sometimes other ingredients. Some pasta dishes and whipped dishes such as mashed potatoes or deviled eggs incorporate truffle oil.
Truffle oil, available in all seasons and steady in price, is popular with chefs (and some diners) because it is much less expensive than actual truffles, while possessing some of the same flavors and aroma. The emergence and growth of truffle oil has led to an increase in the availability of foods claiming to be made with or flavored with truffles, in an era when the price of truffles has pushed them out of reach for most diners. Real truffle oil (which contains actual truffle, and more truffle than oil instead of the other way around) can go for $90 an ounce.
Black truffles are best used for cooking / heated applications. White truffles are best used for cold / fresh applications.
Opinions of Chefs
Gordon Ramsay has referred to natural truffle oil as "a chef's dream," but has referred to engineered white truffle oil as "one of the most pungent, ridiculous ingredients ever known to chef.
Martha Stewart expressed her dislike of truffle oil in a 2014 post on Reddit, stating "I think truffle oil is one of the few ingredients that doesn't belong in anyone's kitchen. It's ruinous of most recipes."
- "In the Kitchen: Ingredients - Truffle Oil", Bon Appetit.
- Koenig, Leah (March 10, 2009), "Truffle Oil", Saveur.
- Patterson, Daniel (May 16, 2007), "Hocus-Pocus, and a Beaker of Truffles", The New York Times.
- on the TV Show, The Taste, episode, "Guilty Pleasures, January 16, 2014".
- "Martha Stewart AMA".
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