Thursday, October 20, 2011

Tacos de Huitlacoche

This past Columbus Day (also known as Día de la Raza in Latin America and Indigeneous People's Day in the United States) weekend I was back in San Miguel de Allende visiting friends and taking advantage of the long weekend. The weather was delicious with nightly rains quenching the hillsides and leaving the cobblestones glistening in the morning sun. The rains are also responsible for the abundance of huitlacoche, a corn fungus that Mexicans consider a delicacy.

In Mexico, huitlacoche enjoys the same culinary standing as truffles do in Europe, though it doesn't grow underground and isn't as costly.  The high regard for huitlacohe is an ancient sentiment.  The Aztecs revered all forms of maize, especially huitlacoche, a Nahuatl word some linguists decipher as meaning "ravens' excrement."  It is true that huitlacoche is not exactly pretty; the deformed, irridescent, and spongy kernels are powdered with black spores and look a little like, well, bird droppings.



Fresh huitlacoche is not hard to find in Mexico.  I saw a young woman selling it right on the cobb but often I buy it from Josefina, my elderly friend from the sierra, who removes it from the cobb and sells it packaged in baggies.

Huitlacoche's taste is difficult to describe; the flavor is not quite like porcini or truffles, but there is some similarity.  Fresh is better though difficult to find in the United States.  Canned huitlacoche is more readily available, which requires a longer cook time to dry out the liquid.

Doña Beatriz


This recipe belongs to Doña Beatriz, a legendary cook from Casa Carmen in San Miguel de Allende.  She doesn't put cheese in her tacos but to add cheese, cut thin slices of a soft cheese like queso de Oaxaca or Monterrey Jack and warm it on a corn tortilla, topping the quesadilla with cooked huitlacoche.


Photos of tacos courtesy of Kelly Castellanos-Evans



Doña Beatriz's Tacos de Huitlacoche



Recipe Type: Appetiser

Author: Gilda Valdez Carbonaro

Prep time: 20 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 25 mins

Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients


  • Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups of huitlacoche

  • 2 roma tomatoes

  • 1 small onion

  • 1 clove chopped garlic

  • 1/2 cup canola oil (approximately)

  • Fresh cilantro

  • Salt to taste

  • Corn tortillas

Instructions



  1. Clean the huitlacoche by removing the tiny stems or feet (la patita) from where it is attached to the cobb (these have a slightly bitter taste).

  2. Cook the onion first until it is soft, then add the roma tomato; cook until it dissolves, then add the huitlacoche.

  3. Cook this mixture for about 10 minutes, until it is all softened, add salt to taste.

  4. Warm your corn tortillas on both sides on a comal.

  5. Place a spoonful of the mixture, garnish with a slice of fresh tomato or a slice of avocado and chopped cilantro and serve with your favorite salsa.

8 comments:

  1. Love this! I have read many times about huitlacoche but never seen it before. I'm not saying I wouldn't try it if I had the chance (well, for sure I would--if someone made it for me) but I realize as well that I still haven't shaken my aversion to all things mushrooom related that I developed while pregnant. Ravens droppings doesn't help :-).

    I didn't realize you could buy it canned...Out of curiosity I will keep my eyes open the next time I am in what I call the Goya aisle at the grocery stores (though I don't know how much Goya does Mexican ingredients, they do at least have chipotle en adobo).

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  2. And after I posted, I clicked on your link--Goya did indeed come through! OK, maybe I will have to do this.

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  3. Gilda Valdez CarbonaroOctober 20, 2011 at 7:44 AM

    Dear Sara,

    Hope you let us know how they came out. I've never made them with canned huitlacoche, but I've been told to be sure to cook it until the liquid dries out if I do.

    Gilda

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  4. Gilda Valdez CarbonaroOctober 20, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Dear Sara,

    I know what you mean about the idea of these 'funghi'. But, hey, you know what truffles look like and yet they are delicious, not to mention incredibly expensive.

    Thanks for writing,
    Gilda

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  5. I am so hungry now! I hope our Spanish teacher at my school will bring some in for a faculty meeting sometime. :)

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  6. Gilda Valdez CarbonaroOctober 20, 2011 at 12:50 PM

    Tina,

    Give her my recipe! :)

    Gilda

    ReplyDelete
  7. [...] you want to cook it for yourself, Goya sells canned huitlacoche. Try it in a taco or quesadilla! What’s the strangest good-for-you food you’ve ever tried? [...]

    ReplyDelete
  8. Gilda Valdez CarbonaroOctober 1, 2012 at 8:05 AM

    Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete

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