Corn fungus, also known as huitlacoche or “corn smut,” has become increasingly popular among chefs and foodies in recent years, according to an article from NPR’s “The Salt” blog. Previously viewed as a pest that ruined crops, huitlacoche is now being embraced for its unique flavor and texture.
Huitlacoche is a type of fungus that infects corn plants and causes a dark, swollen growth on the ears of corn. While it was once seen as a blight on the crop, some farmers in Mexico and the southwestern United States now cultivate it intentionally.
The article notes that huitlacoche has a savory, earthy flavor that some describe as similar to mushrooms, with a hint of corn sweetness. It can be used in a variety of dishes, from tacos and quesadillas to soups and stews.
Chefs in high-end restaurants across the United States are incorporating huitlacoche into their menus, with some even calling it a delicacy. The article mentions chefs like Rick Bayless, who has been using huitlacoche in his Mexican cuisine for years, and Alex Stupak, who has served huitlacoche-filled empanadas at his New York City restaurant, Empellón.
In addition to its flavor, huitlacoche is also valued for its nutritional properties. It contains high levels of lysine, an essential amino acid that is often lacking in corn.
Despite its growing popularity, huitlacoche is still not widely available in many parts of the United States. However, the article notes that some farmers’ markets and specialty stores are starting to carry it, and it can also be ordered online.
Overall, the article suggests that huitlacoche is an example of how chefs and foodies are expanding their palates and embracing new and unusual ingredients.
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