Cuitlacoche: A Discovered Delicacy in Mexico

21 08 2009

Yum!  I really do want to try this prepared correctly of course

In Central Mexico, locals are feasting on a unique delicacy that sprouts to life this time of year from the country’s corn fields.

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Vertical: Cuitlacoche grows when a drop of rain seeps into a husk of corn.
 
 
Enlarge Monica Ortiz Uribe for NPRCuitlacoche grows when a drop of rain seeps into a husk of corn. The moisture rots between the kernels and produces the fungus, which can grow over or side by side with the kernels.

Monica Ortiz Uribe for NPRCuitlacoche grows when a drop of rain seeps into a husk of corn. The moisture rots between the kernels and produces the fungus, which can grow over or side by side with the kernels.

It’s still called by its Aztec name, cuitlacoche (pronounced QUEET-la-coh-chay). The gray, stone-shaped fungus turns into a gunky, tar-like mush when cooked.

But it is revered by Mexican gourmet chefs and home-style cooks alike. The fungus — which some say has an earthy, tangy, mushroom-like flavor with a hint of raw corn — is a popular ingredient in soups and quesadillas.

Farmers hunt for cuitlacoche during the rainy season from now through mid-October.

Sometimes the farmers call the dish “el oro negro,” or black gold.

In a corn field two hours south of Mexico City, farmer Ezequiel Salinas Ramon looks for cuitlacoche in an endless field of tall cornstalks.

The fungus grows inside corn husks. Cuitlacoche flourishes when droplets of rain seep into a stalk of corn and the kernels begin to rot.

Salinas, 59, who has been farming the fungus since he was a child, wades through 40 or more stalks of corn before he finds something.

“We’re in luck! We’ve found one. Here it is,” he shouts when he discovers an infested stalk.

The fungus is collected in big buckets. A pound of cuitlacoche can fetch as much as $3 on the market.

When cooked, cuitlacoche turns into a tar-like mush.
 
Enlarge Monica Ortiz Uribe for NPRWhen cooked, cuitlacoche turns into a tar-like mush that is popularly used in quesadillas. Cuitlacoche is typically prepared with the Mexican herb epazote, onion and chili pepper.

Monica Ortiz Uribe for NPRWhen cooked, cuitlacoche turns into a tar-like mush that is popularly used in quesadillas. Cuitlacoche is typically prepared with the Mexican herb epazote, onion and chili pepper.

Renowned Mexico City chef Carmen Ramirez Degollado says foreigners have a lot to learn about Mexican food. She prepares her cuitlacoche simply, with the Mexican herb epazote, onion and chili pepper.

“We have a very fine Mexican cuisine. It’s not all about tacos,” she says.

Businesswoman Ruth Martinez recently dined on a dish of chicken-stuffed cuitlacoche at a Mexico City restaurant.

When asked to describe how it tastes, Martinez evokes a popular song by Latino singer Enrique Iglesias.

“It’s a religious experience,” she says.

Not a bad compliment for a fungus that in other parts of the world is simply thrown away.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=111789560

Here are some more findings on the internet:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A LOW CARB FOOD !

 

  

Huitlacoche [wee-tlah-KOH-cheh]
Mexican Corn Truffle
Huitlacoche (also spelled cuitlacoche) is a fungus which grows naturally on ears of corn (Ustilago maydis).  The fungus is harvested and treated as a delicacy.  The earthy and somewhat smoky fungus is used to flavor quesadillas, tamales, soups and other specialty dishes.

 I N S T R U C T I O N S 
For the tamales, moisten the instant corn flour with the warm water, and set aside. Beat shortening in mixer until creamy and fluffy. Fold in the corn flour and the chicken stock.

 

 

Gourmetsleuth store  in 210 gram cans.   If you’d like to purchase in larger quantites, please email us.

To assemble the tamales, open the corn husks and place 1 spoonful of dough in the center of the cornhusk. Fold over the sides of the husk and secure with a piece of string. Repeat the process until all the dough is finished. In a double boiler with a steamer insert, steam the tamales for 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove tamales from the steamer and allow them to sit for 5 minutes. Then open them and serve them with a sprinkle of cheese.

Where To Buy
Huitlacoche is available in our online

 If You Find it Fresh
If you live in an area with a large corn crop, or if you have a garden you may find fresh huitlacoche. Here are some preparation instructions.

Preparation
Carefully pull the husks away from the ear of corn and remove them.  Pull away the corn silks and discard.  Use a sharp knife and cut the corn kernels from the cob slicking close to the cob as possible keeping your knife parallel to the cob.  Remove any additional corn silks that still adhere to the huitlacoche.  Roughly chop the huitlacoche (there will be bits of corn adhered to the product).

The huitlacoche can be prepared (cooked) with garlic and chiles and used in crepes, quesadillas,  or tacos.  Or the product can be used “fresh” in soups or stews.

  
Corn Fungus Tamales: Tamales de Huitlacoche
Recipe by Aaron Sanchez

  I N G R E D I E N T S
1 cup instant corn flour (masa harina)
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cans huitlacoche or 2 cups of fresh (Mexican truffle from the fungus of ears of corn)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 (1-pound) package corn husks
1/2 cup cotija or queso anejo 

 Huitlacoche [wee-tlah-KOH-cheh]
Mexican Corn Truffle
Huitlacoche (also spelled cuitlacoche) is a fungus which grows naturally on ears of corn (Ustilago maydis).  The fungus is harvested and treated as a delicacy.  The earthy and somewhat smoky fungus is used to flavor quesadillas, tamales, soups and other specialty dishes.

 I N S T R U C T I O N S 
For the tamales, moisten the instant corn flour with the warm water, and set aside. Beat shortening in mixer until creamy and fluffy. Fold in the corn flour and the chicken stock.

Mix well and set aside. In a blender puree huitlacoche and cilantro with a little water until smooth. Add this mixture to the dough and fold in well. Season with salt and pepper. Have cornhusks already soaking in water.

To assemble the tamales, open the corn husks and place 1 spoonful of dough in the center of the cornhusk. Fold over the sides of the husk and secure with a piece of string. Repeat the process until all the dough is finished. In a double boiler with a steamer insert, steam the tamales for 40 to 45 minutes.

 Remove tamales from the steamer and allow them to sit for 5 minutes. Then open them and serve them with a sprinkle of cheese.

  Where To Buy

 
Huitlacoche is available in our online Gourmetsleuth store  in 210 gram cans.   If you’d like to purchase in larger quantites, please email us.

If You Find it Fresh

 If you live in an area with a large corn crop, or if you have a garden you may find fresh huitlacoche. Here are some preparation instructions. From: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com

 Preparation
Carefully pull the husks away from the ear of corn and remove them.  Pull away the corn silks and discard.  Use a sharp knife and cut the corn kernels from the cob slicking close to the cob as possible keeping your knife parallel to the cob.  Remove any additional corn silks that still adhere to the huitlacoche.  Roughly chop the huitlacoche (there will be bits of corn adhered to the product).

 

The huitlacoche can be prepared (cooked) with garlic and chiles and used in crepes, quesadillas,  or tacos.  Or the product can be used “fresh” in soups or stews.
  
Corn Fungus Tamales: Tamales de Huitlacoche
Recipe by Aaron Sanchez


I N G R E D I E N T S
1 cup instant corn flour (masa harina)
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 cans huitlacoche or 2 cups of fresh (Mexican truffle from the fungus of ears of corn)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 (1-pound) package corn husks
1/2 cup cotija or queso anejo

  

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