15 February, 2014

Tastes like ... Cuitlacoche

Also spelled as Huitlacoche; we are talking about the prized black rot that grows on infected corn.  A prized possession in the Mexican market and priced accordingly.  I HATE that it has been translated to be called Corn Smut!  Smut sounds to me like something you should be scraping off of your shoe not a delicacy defended even by the government.  That`s right my friends GMO corn is banned in Mexico because GMO corn does not produce this staple ingredient in the Mexicans World Heritage Cuisine.  I prefer to call it Corn Truffles.  If the French can wax elegantly about rot rooted from the ground by trained swine why should I not be able to call it Corn Truffles?

Cuitlacoche (weet/lah/KOH/tcheh)  is a fungus that grows only on select ears of corn.  You will only find it in the markets during the summer season (June through September).  I recommend purchasing it still attached to the husk.  It is much better to risk getting your fingers smudged black then to have mushy Cuitlacoche. You do not know until you open it up what you have.  Which is why it is so rare and sought after.  You cannot force it to grow and it will only grow on heirloom varietals of corn.  Monsanto eat your heart out!  Cuitlacoche is LOADED with protein and many Native American tribes considered it a source of meat.  The kernels of infected corn grow much larger than the size of a regular kernel and is a dark grey to almost black color.  It looks like a mushroom growing inside of an ear of corn.  The flavor is earthy similar to a mushroom but also sweet like fresh corn.  Many people complain that it is mushy, but just like every ingredient in the kitchen if it is not cooked properly or fresh it can have adverse affects.  I have eaten Cuitlacoche many times and discovered that it is not in fact mushy at all unless it has been over cooked or was not fresh.  You can purchase CANNED Cuitlacoche around the world, from what I can see on the web,  I would not recommend it!

Cuitlacoche is most often served as a guisado.  Meaning it is prepared as a basic dish and then can be added to your plate of choice, tacos, quesadillas, relleno filling...  It also makes a delicious soup, although many are afraid to try because the color can be off-putting.  It is popularly paired with Flor de Calabaza or Squash Blossoms as they both are delicacies that come into season at the same time.
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