The aromatic earthiness of truffle is an irresistible lure to many, and truffle lovers can rejoice as FOC is holding a Black Truffle Week from Mar 6 – 8. Chef Nandu Jubany has prepared different menus and special dishes for diners at all 3 FOC restaurants. The Michelin-starred Spaniard answers a few questions about the valuable ingredient that will be the star of the show.
1. What is your experience working with truffles?
I’ve been working with truffles for more than 30 years. I am also very lucky to live in the part of Spain which is widely known for its excellent wild truffle. Since I was a kid, my parents were using truffles already, so their smell and taste are very familiar to me. I have been featuring truffle in my restaurant in Spain every year, because I consider it to be a gem in the gastronomical crown!
2. How much truffles did you bring in for this dinner series? And how did you store them for transport?
I am bringing around 10 kg of black truffle. To preserve its quality and precious aromatic value, I store them dry, wrapped individually in paper towels and vacuum packed. It is very important to do keep them from the exposure to the air after harvesting.
3. There are many truffle dishes on the menu. How do you ensure diners do not suffer from truffle fatigue by the third dish?
The most important matter in creating a dish is the balance and composition of flavours. I do not wish to “overtruffle” anyone, that is why I give importance to all fresh ingredients in each dish, maintaining at the same time the right equilibrium between them all. However, I do enhance all of them with Black Truffle, which interacts differently with every product creating interesting flavour combinations, making the dishes round and powerful. My guests in Spain come specially to try these dishes during the truffle season, and our standard menu is even bigger than the one we are offering here, by 3 dishes!
4. How do you personally consume truffles?
Truffle has been present in my life since I was a kid, so I like to appreciate the very simple truffle dishes, such as Pasta with truffle cut “a la julienne” or with fried eggs. I also enjoy the home-made truffle infused olive oil as dressing for salads, for example. Simply prepared black truffle on toast of home-made bread with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt is also delightful.
5. What are your thoughts on truffle oil? Gordon Ramsey is against it.
It all depends how the truffle oil is prepared. Truffle oil nowadays has become very popular and commercialised. However, the commercial brands produce it using artificially elaborated base with compounds of sulphur, which on the chemical level could also be extracted from vegetables such as artichoke or cabbage. When olive oil undergoes such a chemical process, it has a very characteristic aroma of butane (typical of white, but not black truffle).
I am not against truffle oil in itself, just the chemically processed ones which do not contain any truffle at all. In a professional kitchen, we use the truffle “nose to tail”, therefore we use its trimmings to take advantage of its aromas and add them to different products. Being a chef I do prepare my own, home-made truffle-infused olive oil, and I would recommend it everyone who is looking for authentic flavours!
6. Will your dishes contain any truffle oil?
Yes, our home-made truffle oil will appear in all the menus across FOC Restaurants in Singapore in the form of salad dressing for example. It is a great way of enhancing the flavour of simple and delicious vegetables.
7. What do people don’t know about truffle but should?
I think people are already quite well-educated about the truffle. The most widely known truffles are still the Spanish and French ones, however truffles do grow in other parts of the world, from South Africa to Australia, and even in the northern hemisphere. There are many kinds of truffles with the most well-known being Tuber Melanosporum. Quite often, Tuber Uncinatum, Tuber Brumale, Tuber Indicum, and Tuber Estivium are presented as the Malnaosporum, although they have different organoleptic profile and naturally, different price. We should not forget either about the seasonality of the truffles and their differentiation depending on the time of harvest. Their flavour, texture and aromas change as well when they are overripe or immature. It is such an interesting, versatile product to explore and use!