What is Huitlacoche?

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Mexico | 1 comment

I have a budding relationship with Huitlacoche. In fact, I think it’s just starting to go somewhere…

What is Huitlacoche?

This vegan-friendly food is popular in upscale dining, especially where gourmands head, such as Oaxaca City and San Miguel de Allende. In Mexico City, lovers of street food will be delighted to find Huitlacoche on the menu at very generous prices.

Pronounce it like wheat-la-Co-che

Huitlacoche Package by Dale Hanstad (2021)
Huitlacoche Package by Dale Hanstad (2021)

Huitlacoche is a fungus that is considered a sort of delicacy in Mexico. It grows on corncobs, giving it a sort of wild corn appearance with speckles of gray and brown to throw off the unknowing onlooker.

In English, people call it corn smut.

Foodies say it is edible in its raw form like a mushroom. It’s light and fluffy with a dusty texture. I prefer to cook it in my quesadillas. Rico!

How do I Cook Huitlacoche?

Cooking this delicacy is surprisingly easy. If you know how to sauté onions or mushrooms, it’s just a substitution of the huitlacoche in their place. The white and grayish parts of the husk look like they’re burning, but it’s a natural reaction.

In fact, it’s this burned exterior that gives the flavor of huitlacoche such notoriety.

How to Cook Huitlacoche

Huitlacoche in a Bowl by Dale Hanstad (2021)
Huitlacoche in a Bowl by Dale Hanstad (2021)

Heat the skillet. When the correct temperature is reached, add a light (very light) coating of your favorite cooking oil. I

use vegetable oil. When the pan is hot enough, add the huitlacoche, and let it cook until the exterior appears blackened.

There aren’t any real rules. Experiment to find out what amount of time on the skillet gives you the best texture.

After that, throw them in a quesadilla. I used blue tortillas and queso asadero from Aguascalientes.


Learning about New Foods While Living Abroad is Fun

Huitlacoche Quesadillas by Dale Hanstad (2021)
Huitlacoche Quesadillas by Dale Hanstad (2021)

I do not make it a habit of procuring foodstuffs from the United States, although I certainly could near Puerto Vallarta.

In Mexico, there are plenty of big-chain grocery stores that offer local produce, dairy, and meat.

If you want to avoid the big names, small markets, especially in Mexico’s coastal cities, can offer very fresh products.

Learning about all the fresh and local ingredients is really educational.

Huitlacoche Taught me to Enjoy

As an expat, I’ve learned to relish these small finds. With so much to enjoy, and so often, it’s easy to become numb to it. A tasty treat like this puts a lot into perspective.

Getting to Mexico is half the battle. integrating comes in spurts – finding your home, discovering new foods, and making new friends.

Many Mexican people are often quick to share their culinary heritage with anybody who asks nicely. If Spanish is an obstacle, consider enrolling in a cooking course – learn the recipes and meet new people. That’s what it’s all about!

What great new foods have you tried while abroad? Did you pick up any life lessons along the way?

by: Dale Hanstad