What to do with Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche is a mushroom that grows in corn kernels, distorting their shape and turning the flesh black .  In the U.S., where some call it “corn truffle” or “corn smut,” huitlacoche is most often treated as a blight and corn cobs affected by the fungus are often discarded (“tragically ugly”).  However, in México, it is an expensive delicacy and often served in quesadillas or, more elegantly, as a stuffing for peppers, chicken, or fish.  Despite the strange, black appearance (it is often prepared as a black paste), huitlacoche has a mild taste that is rich in the mushroom/umami flavor and a silken texture.  And served with a little cream or cheese to bring out the taste, it’s spectacular.

Huitlacoche on the cob looks intimidating...

Huitlacoche on the cob looks intimidating...

Last week I bought a cob at the local market here in Escandón.  I got tips from half the vendors on how to prepare it; combined that with a few ingredients more common to my cooking back home; and some herbs from the little garden on the balcony, and went to work.  Despite the simple, ad-hoc recipe, the results were outstanding.

 

Huitlacoche Recipe

  • 1 lb fresh huitlacoche (on a corn cob)
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped roughly
  • 2-3 tbsp oil (olive, vegetable, etc.)
  • dry chicken or vegetable stock or salt to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. In a large pan, sauté the onions and garlic in the oil
  2. With a knife, cut the kernels of huitlacoche off the cob; leave them whole or chop roughly
  3. When the onion is becoming translucent, add the huitlacoche; stir often over a medium flame until the kernels also start to become translucent or the liquid has evaporated
  4. Add the water, basil, and stock powder, to taste
  5. Continue cooking until the water evaporates; the huitlacoche kernels should be translucent, with a black interior, and very tender
  6. Serve immediately, with tortillas and cheese or sour cream, or refrigerate for later use (it takes well to a microwave)

 

México, D.F.

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