Also called cuitlacoche or corn smut, this fungus causes corn kernels to swell and turns them dark gray or black. The lowered yield and unappetizing appearance caused by the growth leads most American farmers to destroy and avoid it - but it's a central ingredient in some Latin American cooking, drawing comparisons to the smoky, earthy qualities of mushrooms. You can find it used as a meat or mushroom substitute in soups, stews, and tortilla fillings, and it's even been marketed as the Mexican truffle.
It looks intriguing, but challenging, in a slimy sort of way. Has anyone here ever cooked with huitlacoche?
• Buy canned huitlachoche at MexGrocer.com
(Photo: La Villa Bonita)