I’ve ordered my fair share of truffle-flecked dishes at restaurants, added truffle oil to foods I make at home and I even own a truffle shaver, but I’ve never purchased or eaten a whole truffle before. I always had romantic notions of where my first truffle buying experience would be… maybe France? Somewhere in Italy? Hell, at least in a fancy deli in New York. So imagine my surprise that my first time would be at Uwajimaya.
I was there over the weekend and saw Styrofoam packages of white and black truffles for sale. I picked up a tray of the white ones—they were awfully cheap ($4 for a small package / $79 per pound) and had an odd gasoline-like smell through the wrapper, but curiosity won out and I bought them.
So today I was thinking I should probably cook those bad-boys up. I did a little online truffle research, only to find that I should have eaten them immediately after purchase. Ooops. I went and checked on them; they didn’t seem soggy so I decided it wasn’t too late.
I wanted something supremely simple and plain, so that I could really taste the truffle. I found the perfect recipe at splendid table. My friend picked up some fresh linguine from DeLaurenti and I already had a good block of Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh butter, so we were all set. I also had two Pork Lau Lau (pork, pork fat, butterfish and salt wrapped in taro leaves) that I got at Uwajimaya as well and needed to eat, so we had a rather strange dinner.
The pasta was really good, except I didn’t follow the recipe and didn’t use nearly enough butter. I shaved the truffles on top and dug in. The truffles had a hint of flavor, but tasted more like old mushroom than truffle. On second thought, it was kind of like having little wood shavings on top of your pasta—a little crunchy and surprisingly dry.
The Pork Lau Lau, on the other hand, was amazing. After heating and unwrapping them, I was a little skeptical because they looked like they were packed solid with pork fat. But after you scoop away the top layer of fat you’re left with some seriously succulent and well-flavored pork, and butterfish that melts like, well, butter.
The verdict? Don’t buy truffles at Uwajimaya, but you SHOULD buy the Pork Lau Lau. Lots and lots of them. Save your truffle money and spend it at DeLaurenti. Yes, $2,000 per pound sounds like a lot, but… well, it is a lot. They’re truffles. What do you expect?