Chinese Truffles
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Chinese Truffles refer to three Asiatic varieties of Truffle: Tuber Sinensis, Tuber Indicum and Tuber Himalayensis. All are Black Truffles, similar in appearance to the Black Périgord Truffle, chocolate to black exterior with a matching interior. Their perfume varies between individuals of each species. Some have plenty of scent, others virtually none. Black Chinese Truffles are harvested in the winter.

The problem for us as chefs is that all of them grow well in China, and they will take on, and absorb, the fragrance of better Truffles if they are left together. The absorption makes Chinese Truffles one of the prime sources of Truffles used to masquerade as the expensive Black Périgord Truffle since they can be “scented” to pass the sniff test.  Ultimately, all three varieties can carry a petroleum-like smell (as do out-of-date European Truffles) and potentially have a bitter aftertaste. Olga Urbani of the Urbani Truffle family that controls 70% of the world Truffle market, describes eating Chinese Truffles as “like chewing cork.” We can imagine how Olga has a vested interest in European Truffles and other Truffle fans are more kindly disposed towards Chinese Truffles. They claim that it all depends on freshness and the batch of Chinese Truffles you are working with.

A good solution is to consider Chinese Truffles as you would exotic wild mushrooms, not paying more, and use them similarly. They can even be used to good effect in a mushroom mixture. The Chinese do not use them in cuisine but instead in traditional Chinese medicine.

Varieties

There is also a Chinese Summer White Truffle, but it does not yet have a scientific name and we don’t see them much in the West at this time.

Portion Size

Allow 1/2-1 T of Chinese Truffles per person.

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes