Corn Smut.

Date: Fri, 12 Apr 1996 21:41:02 -0400
To: The Culinary Herbs & Spices List <HERBS.HOME.EASE.LSOFT.COM>
From: Sara Anne Corrigan <SaraAnneC.AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: corn smut (was epazote)

>(about epazote:) I think it tastes better than it smells. Cooking may alter the aroma. We used it in huitlacoche (corn smut) last summer, and it's used in bean dishes. Now that I have used it, I will use it more often. Margaret

OK. Really. Do you have actual recipes for preparing corn smut as a culinaryevent? Here in southern Indiana where corn is grown by the thousands of acres, corn smut is a vilified thing. I figure it's a fungus and likely tastes like mushrooms, but I've never had nerve enough to forge (forage?) ahead on my own. I would TRULY TRULY love to know what to look for, how to harvest it, and recipes for cooking with it. I promise I'll try it!

From: Margaret Lauterbach <mlaute.MICRON.NET>

>OK. Really. Do you have actual recipes for preparing corn smut as a culinary event?

In Mexican cooking, it's called "huitlacoche." In "Cuisines of Mexico" by Diana Kennedy, she says "it is perfectly delicious with an inky, mushroomy flavor that is almost impossible to describe." You have to get the kernels before they soften, ready to send up new spores, of course. When the kernels are silvery blue, misshapen, etc, chop them up and saute them. They exude an aromatic, inky liquid. Kennedy says it's "made into soup or, more elegantly, stuffed into thin crepes which are then covered with cream." It is also a popular filling for quesadillas, for which Kennedy does give the recipe:

Huitlacoche para quesadillas

Chop fungus kernels roughly and set them aside.
In 3 to 4 T cooking oil, saute 1/4 medium onion (chopped) and 1 clove garlic (finely chopped) until they're soft, but not brown. Add strips from two small chiles poblanos (peeled) or two canned green chiles), the huitlacoche, 1 large sprig epazote (chopped) and salt to taste. Cook over medium flame until mix is soft and liquid from the fungus has evaporated (about 15 minutes).

Add to cheese-filled corn tortilla. Muenster cheese works well for this.

Chile-heads folks also suggest mixing chopped huitlacoche with srambled eggs or serving them with huevos rancheros...It might be worth a call to some fancy Mexican restaurants such as Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe to see what they'd pay you for a quantity of it. BTW, he likens the flavor of huitlacoche to wild does have a mushroomy aroma, but I didn't have enough of it to get a morel aroma (didn't want to sear my nose). This is something you have to grow yourself, it's not commercially available.

Bon appetit! Margaret

From: Pat Patterson <PSP.LCE.OES.ORST.EDU>

Actually corn smut is now commercially available, but I doubt you will want to pay the price! It is about $30 last I heard. It has to be grown in isolation from commercial corn crops. It is usually canned and rarely available fresh. I think Frieda's Exotic Foods may carry it? Hoity toity restaurants are selling it as Mexican mushroom or Huichlcoatl or any other name they can imagine. It is important that it not have gone to spore stage before using.