Huitlacoche definitely isn’t the most appetizing ingredient from its appearance alone, especially considering that it is actually a type of corn fungus that seems like it wouldn’t even be edible in the first place.
In reality however, huitlacoche is a delicacy in many parts of South America and actually has an incredibly unique taste that allows it to stand out from all its competitors.
It’s understandable however that many people would be hesitant to incorporate huitlacoche into a recipe just from seeing it, so it’s more worthwhile finding out how exactly it tastes so that you can decide how much it could potentially enhance the flavors of your favorite meals in the future.
Here is a deep dive into what huitlacoche is and why so many parts of the world love its unique taste so much.
What Is Huitlacoche?
Also known as corn smut, fungus, and Mexican truffle, huitlacoche is a plant disease that grows around the ears of corn and around the kernels.
This fungus has actually been a delicacy for several centuries with it being traced back to the time of the Aztecs with it becoming an incredibly important food source for indigenous groups in the Southwest for centuries.
While huitlacoche has an incredibly important role within history, even today it is still commonly served in several areas of the world not only because of its plethora of health benefits but also because of the very distinct flavor which is unlike anything you’ve ever tasted.
Huitlacoche is instantly recognizable for its puffy gray appearance that looks similar to river stones which may look unappetizing on the outside, but it’s when you incorporate it as part of a bigger meal or recipe that it starts to become easier to understand why so many people enjoy the taste of this strange fungus so much.
How Does Huitlacoche Taste?
Over the last decade in the US, many epicureans have been encouraging people to at least try out huitlacoche, not only for its many health benefits but also due to just how unique the mixture of flavors is that they need to be tasted at least once since there really aren’t many foods that taste anything like it.
Huitlacoche is often described as having a mushroom-like texture that manages to taste sweet, savory, woody, earthy, and even smoky all at the same time.
You can eat huitlacoche either raw or sauteed just like with mushrooms, however either way you prepare them they’ll still contain that incredibly potent mild and earthy flavor which is very similar to mushrooms but a little stronger and more distinct in huitlacoche.
Since it is also taken from corn, it still carries that slight element of sweetness that keeps the huitlacoche from tasting too dry or bland.
While huitlacoche can definitely be enjoyed on its own, it is usually served as part of a bigger recipe, or as the stuffing to a wrap or taco.
The primary reason for this is while it does have a very distinct smoky flavor, it is also quite dry which can cause it to end up tasting bland if you consume it without any added ingredients.
Therefore, so that you can enjoy the ingredient to its full potential and savor as much of its natural flavor as possible, it’s often better to keep huitlacoche tasting fresh by using a tortilla wrap along with some cheese or mix it in with other more moist ingredients as part of a filling.
Huitlacoche Health Benefits
Ever since the time of the Aztecs, huitlacoche has been known to be an incredibly nutrient-dense ingredient that provides an incredible amount of healthy benefits alongside being a tasty addition to any meal.
Despite only being a fungus, huitlacoche is actually incredibly rich in protein along with having high levels of unsaturated fatty acids and lysine which can help the body absorb calcium while also being an essential substance for keeping our bones strong.
Lysine is actually incredible popular among bodybuilders who undergo heavy strength training so that they can replenish their muscles faster.
Ways To Serve Huitlacoche
The good news is that if you’ve picked up an interest in huitlacoche and want to try them out for yourself, preparing them so that you can incorporate them into a recipe is incredibly simple and only takes a few minutes.
All you need to do once you’ve picked up a tin or jar of huitlacoche is to sautee them in a pan and add in a few salts and spices to enhance the flavor as much as possible.
The specific spices you choose are entirely up to you and depend on how you want to mix up the flavor when it’s time to tuck in.
As soon as you have sauteed them, the huitlacoche will be ready to eat, however rather than enjoying them on their own, to really get as much out of this strange but delicious ingredient as possible, it’s always worth incorporating them into a greater recipe.
A popular way to enjoy huitlacoche is as the main ingredient in a quesadilla (see also our favorite foods that start with Q).
Not only are quesadillas incredibly customizable and can be infused with a whole range of other ingredients so that you can change up the flavor to how you would like it, but thanks to the soft tortilla wrap and cheese, it allows the huitlacoche to be as soft as possible to bite into and masks its dry texture so that it can taste fresh and delicious rather than becoming a little bland.
In a similar way, they can also be used as part of the filling of a taco and are a great substitute for mushrooms when you feel like changing up the flavor a little bit.
You can serve them alongside some ground beef (see also ‘What Does Cow Tongue Taste Like? Learn The Flavor, Texture And More!‘) to make up the core of the taco or even simply pack the tortilla full of only huitlacoche and a few spices to create a deliciously chewy treat that goes down so well as an evening appetizer.
A final way you can use huitlacoche is as part of the filing for a tamale where it can serve as a delicious compliment to the extra sweetness of the corn along with the chilies and meat.
Next time you see huitlacoche making an appearance on the menu, try not to judge it by its appearance as not only does it have an incredibly unique taste that puts a delicious spin on the usual mushroom flavor we are all so familiar with, but they are also incredibly healthy and provide you with many of the essential vitamins and nutrients needed for the day ahead.
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