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Jun 7, 2007 03:10 PM

Is huitlacoche in a can any good?

Is buying huitlacoche in a can an acceptable way of trying it for the first time? I've never had it and saw some canned at our local Hispanic/Asian supermarket, but I was leery of trying it. Is the canned version a good product?
BTW, I live in Woodbrige, VA, and saw the canned huitlacoche at Global Market.

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  1. I actually really made a delicious off-the-top-of my head pollo en salsa de huitlachoche using the canned stuff. It was actually plate-licking delicious surprisingly enough. That said - I have not been yet fortunate enough to come across fresh huitlacoche.

    1. You will be hard pressed to find fresh huitlacoche unless you make your own. I have only seen it fresh in Mexico. Everytime I have had huitlacoche, it has been from a can, and it has still been very good.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Homero

        How do you "make" huitlacoche? Even in corn fields it's only sporadic - and generally preferred that way since it's most common English name is "corn smut." :) Even Mexicans wouldn't want it spreading too much, it probably started out as food on the theory of: "when you find it, eat it, since that ear of corn is now history, anyway." :) Or do they actually infect whole plots to make the canned stuff in the "modern" era?

        1. re: MikeG

          In some regions of Mexico... the locals never really understood the value of Huitlacoche much like their culinarily backward counterparts in the Midwest... but in Central Mexico... they understand it, appreciate it & cultivate it. There are certain corn varieties and growing conditions (the marshes on which Tenochtitlan were founded were highly productive)... that maximize Huitlacoche yields.

          1. re: MikeG

            It can be cultivated by inoculating the ears of corn with the spores.

            1. re: HaagenDazs

              Thanks... can you provide guidance (or links) on how to inoculate them... I am considering growing a row of maize here in Hawaii to try to develop some.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Yikes - I'm not sure of that. You'd have to get the spores from somewhere and I'm willing to bet you can't just find it on! It grows quite well in wet, moist environments so maybe planting it during you wet season would be a start.

        2. If you've had it at a restaurant, odds are you've already had it from a can.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bostonbob3

            Agreed. I've eaten it at an extremely well regarded Oaxacan resturant in LA called Gueleguetza and I saw them making the empanadas using a can of huitlacoche.

          2. The OP's question is whether buying & prepping canned huitlacoche is a first good time. Unless you are used to doing the same with weird products... I would have to say a resounding... NO! The texture & color are going to be different than just about anything you've probably had.

            With that said.... I doubt most restaurants in the U.S. ever use real huitlacoche... yet I've also had some delicous meals.

            Now if you go for it... I would recommend picking up some shitakes (about 8 ounces)... sauteeing them with a little bit onion.... then add the can of huitlacoche until warm.... have it with a piece of roast chicken. Otherwise... you could roast & soften a Chile Mulato or Chile Negro... then puree it with a can of Huitlacoche, thin with beef or check broth as need... and serve it with a Filet Mignon and some steamed Chayote or a Round Calabacita that is parboiled... scoop out some of the insides, stuff with cheese, batter & deep fry.

            6 Replies
              1. re: emilief

                Its part of what I call Mexican Soul food - a black fungus (mushroom) that grows on corn under adequate conditions (some varieties are better at producing Huitlacoche than others) - that was beloved by the Aztecs and other peoples of Central Mexico. Up until a couple of decades ago it was considered a very low class food... today its a favorite among haute chefs.

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  Thanks- now that you describe I know what it is but forgot the name. Now I will have to look for some!

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Also, it is as scarce as four leaf clovers. In season, little ladies scavenge whole fields to find a few dozen ears to sell at market. It's presence is detectible while it's still on the stalk- it pops up at the top of the husk arount the tassle.
                    In the U.S., large sums have been spent to eradicate this delicacy. Splain it to me, Lucy.

                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                  I was thinking of using some to mix with masa for tamale filling. Good idea? (had the thought of stuffing squid with it).

                3. I'm sad to say that there is no comparison between the canned and the fresh. I have had both in restaruants and I much prefer the fresh. Think canned mushrooms versus fresh ones or really canned anything for that matter versus fresh ingredients. Same deal with squash blossoms (which are easier to find fresh).

                  I live in Chicago and I have been to at least one regional mexican place that has the fresh huitlachoche on occasion. I would bet you could find fresh in Southern California as well. I know that doesn't help much but I've never seen it fresh in a store.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: cheapertrick

                    Waitaminute - there are *canned* squash blossoms? Eeew.

                    1. re: cheapertrick

                      Agreed.... fresh huitlacoche is sublime... but if you know what you are doing canned huitlacoche is better than no huitlacoche. At Frida in Beverly Hills... I know I've had the Filet Azteca (a Filet Mignon in Huitlacoche sauce served with roasted Nopal paddles & poached Chayote) when it couldn't possibly be in season... and it was very tasty.

                      By the way... nothing can possibly be as far from the original product as canned squash blossoms... they taste of nothing but brine.