You might be an expert on black Périgord or white Alba truffles, but have you ever heard of honey truffles? As you might guess from its name, this mushroom is known for its sweetness – the good news is, it’s available in Hong Kong; the bad news is, there might only be a few precious kilograms left.
The mushroom, known by more scientific minds as Mattirolomyces terfezioides, is a kind of white truffle found primarily in Hungary, under black locust trees along the Danube river, where the soil is sandy and slightly alkaline. The truffle was first documented in 1588 when a Hungarian magistrate ordered a certain forest protected, due to its supply of these special mushrooms.
We managed to try it at the Island Shangri-La, which claims to be the only place in Hong Kong to stock honey truffles at the moment, and has created a special menu for lucky diners while stocks last. The hotel’s chef, Sam Chan, tried the truffle last year and contacted the supplier for delivery this autumn (the mushrooms are harvested between August and November).
The truffle arrives in a jar, resting on rice kernels to soak up the excess moisture for prolonged preservation – having only ordered 7kg of the mushroom, Chan was taking no chances. The truffle starts off with a gentle, almost nutty flavour profile, and, as expected, has a deep, honey-like finish. Just short of being cloying, the sweetness nevertheless lingers on the tongue, and as such, pairs beautifully with a strong, buttery Chardonnay.
The honey truffle is a natural addition to sweet dishes such as the ice cream and panna cotta desserts at the hotel’s Lobster Bar & Grill, but it is also used to admirably subtle effect with a scallop tartare and green pea risotto. It lends depth to the bright, fresh notes of the seafood dish, while it melts beautifully into the rice, adding richness of flavour without the heaviness usually associated with its black Périgord counterparts.
Chan estimates his stock won’t last long, perhaps not even until November, so time is of the essence. Failing a booking, we’d suggest a flight to Hungary, where, with any luck, the sweet truffles will still be in season for a few more weeks yet.