Half the fun of cooking huitlacoche–known to some as the “Mexican truffle”–is being able to tell people what you had for dinner.
“I had seconds on the smut last night, it was so good.”
Or, to your kids, “You’re late for supper. But we saved you a slice of fungus.”
But that’s only half the fun. The other half is in discovering a pretty decent new food item in something you previously threw out.
Corn fungus, like purslane, has long been looked upon by European/American farmers as a scourge to be eradicated. But we found last night that it’s actually pretty good in a quesadilla. We’ll definitely have it again, if we ever get another of those freakishly deformed looking ears.
The gray fungus that grows in place of normal kernels looks like mushrooms but doesn’t much taste like them. It’s much more mild. In fact it tastes a little like it looks. Ashy.
I tried a little of it uncooked, and I have to say cooking smooths out its flavor. You wouldn’t want too many other strong flavors with it, either, because they would easily overwhelm.
My one fungus-covered ear was just about the right amount to make a large quesadilla. Here’s what I did:
First remove the husks and silks and rinse the ear. Then cut down the length of the cob to remove the fungus. It should come off easily. Get a little of the good kernels too, while you’re at it. Mince and set aside.
Next, cut into small dice
About 1/2 cup onions
One sweet pepper (I used a green and red Italian frying pepper)
One small hot pepper, seeds and membrane removed (half a pepper, if it’s an extremely hot variety).
Also remove kernels from another two or three ears of corn, until you have about a cup.
Grate some mild white cheese of your choice. I used Monterey jack–about a cup.
Pick, wash and chop a little cilantro.
When everything is prepared, heat a little oil in a skillet and fry the peppers and onions first, until soft but not brown, adding salt and ground cumin to taste.
Then add the normal corn kernels and cook for a few minutes, until cooked through. Add the fungus and cook until softened, like mushrooms.
At this point, adjust for seasoning. Bring heat down to low.
Heat up another skillet and put in a little oil to coat. When the skillet is hot put down a flour tortilla, and spoon some filling over the tortilla. This recipe will make one big quesadilla or a couple of small ones, depending on tortilla size.
Top with cheese and cilantro, then cover with second tortilla. Spray the top with cooking oil spray (or brush some on).
After a few minutes, the bottom should be brown. With a big spatula, flip the whole works over in the pan so the second tortilla is on top. Cook until the second side is brown, then remove from the pan, cut into wedges and serve.
It was great. And no one ever missed the meat.
Posted by: Roxie