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Gusano - Worm Salt

Sarah Perry Apr 15, 2009 10:38 PM

My friend just got back from a trip through Oaxaca, and brought back some powdered gusano salt with chilis - that means worm powder, guys. She had eaten several dishes prepared with the stuff, and had some with tequilas, and decided to bring some home. I tried it in order to demonstrate how macho I am.

Turns out it's great! A very savory, umami flavor, reminiscent of mushroom or truffles. Rich and complex, meaty and delicious. I can TOTALLY understand why this would be a culinary necessity. I never thought I would enjoy a worm, but there it is! It is not just Fear Factor food. It is genuinely excellent.

Has anyone else tried this? I can see it working well with tequilas and cocktails, and being added to dishes the same way you might add truffle salt (which is to say, if you want the deep bass flavor to dominate the dish).

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  1. Eat_Nopal RE: Sarah Perry Apr 15, 2009 10:46 PM

    Chances are... if the Oaxacans eat it... it must be great. Agreed there should be more Sal de Gusano in the world... makes fleur de sel look like some wussy french thing.

    1. kare_raisu RE: Sarah Perry Apr 15, 2009 11:52 PM

      Hey Sarah, I first had some in Guadalajara last summer at a Oaxacan restaurant just down the street from my friends house http://www.flickr.com/photos/xguadala...

      I cajoled the owner into letting me buy a small packet of his dwindling supply- how enamored I was of the stuff.

      Since then, I found a source in Tijuana - so if you take me and streetgourmetla up on or Mexican Mullet, dessicated fried chicken estilo tijuas, and pump tour we can get some more!

      We could also get you down to Ensenada where we could pick up artisanal Mezcales such as Alipus, los danzantes http://www.losdanzantes.com/web/mezca... ]or try some super rare varieties with hand written labels at our friend Benito's restaurant Manzanilla to enjoy it with.

      You could also seek out Del Maguey Mezcal http://www.mezcal.com/ in your area. Its the only Mezcal I have had in the states that doesnt taste like an overheating oven. In fact, its great - try the pechuga!!!

      I collect cheap Mexican cooking magazines and I do recall some recipes that use the salt. I'll have to get back to you on that.

      Meanwhile, you might be interested in searching on jumiles - the beetles that they make salsa out of in Guerrero. A legendary poster known as RST once found and reported on frozen jumiles found in a Chicago tiendita/mexitessen. I wonder if it can be found in LA? It was also mentioned on Bizzare foods show,

      Now we just have to work on turning it into a scent.... =)

      1 Reply
      1. re: kare_raisu
        Sarah Perry RE: kare_raisu Apr 21, 2009 02:59 PM

        I can't wait to try the dessicated fried chicken. And sal de gusano definitely needs to be a perfume!

      2. pgalioni RE: Sarah Perry Apr 18, 2009 04:51 PM

        Sarah - VANILLA BEANS - can' seem to find the place to add this and I'm brand new here - I often give home made Ku--it's been so long since I've bought it the name slips my brain - KALUA! -- and I tend to lean heavy on the REAL coffee (as in peets.com, heavy Italian Roast or Espresso forte or a more earthy Sumatra, or sweeter and lighter Latan American, or bitter African several differet flavors which do all come through) -- and grind it to a powder like Turkish, then add Vanilla, in a quart Mason or Ball jar and put it away for the next Christmas -- how many vanilla beans would I need for say a two quart jar of Stoli*, about a half pound of coffee, to make it come through as something really nice -- often I'll get some beans from the deli section of my IGA -- (well run) and so I'd assume they are Mexican -- I usually add some off the shelf vanilla infusion from a bottle to bring the vanilla forward. I generally make about 4 gallons all together with different flavored coffees. So it's both a get-on-the-BUZZ drink, and the COOH keeps it under control -- thanks.

        * I once used ever clear when it was legal, and that was FAR too strong, as was 151 rum - so I'm back to Stoli that has good sales on their large bottles - Often I'll add the sugar to the COOH in a pressure cooker (Kuhn-rikhon so their's little to no venting) on an ELECTRIC stove to keep explosions to a minimum (EVERYONE!!!!: NO GAS STOVES, EVER unless you have had Chem 1A and know what you are doing -- meaing you understand that alcohol+fire=explosion, one reason for the Khun-Rikon, it keeps it all inside! without a vent until about 15 lbs/in/sq and I keepit at 10 lbs/in/sq) -- and thus press far more sugar into the COOH (alcohol) than I would by just letting it sit and turning it all the time -- let it cool completely so all he COOH goes back into the liquid, then cool to very cool and open the top, add a little stoli to make up for the COOH in the atmosphere and to please the gods, and then add the coffee and beans when the liquid is cool enough to not evaporate out the COOH -- and thus ruin half of the purpose.

        1 Reply
        1. re: pgalioni
          Sarah Perry RE: pgalioni Apr 21, 2009 02:58 PM

          Hey pglalioni, I linked to your comment in the comments section of the digest page - http://www.chow.com/general_topics_di....

        2. kirinraj RE: Sarah Perry Apr 18, 2009 05:29 PM

          yes! the woman at the oaxacan grocery store that i frequent (in san jose, ca) called me over as i left the store and gave me a small bottle of the sal de gusano to take home for free. She said its "para frutas", you can use it to sprinkle on fruits. It truly is excellent on mangoes, melon, and peaches/nectarines. if i'm not mistakeni think it's sea salt ground with chile pasilla oaxaqueno and dried gusanos.

          1 Reply
          1. re: kirinraj
            a
            annieosfan RE: kirinraj Jul 24, 2009 03:23 PM

            What is the name/address of that grocery store. I would love to have a bottle of Sal de Gusano!

          2. tatamagouche RE: Sarah Perry Apr 18, 2009 07:39 PM

            My eyes are too crossed to read all the responses....is there somewhere to acquire this stuff online?

            1 Reply
            1. re: tatamagouche
              Sarah Perry RE: tatamagouche Apr 21, 2009 02:54 PM

              I haven't found one yet - let me know if you do!

            2. geekyfoodie RE: Sarah Perry Apr 19, 2009 04:22 PM

              I love the stuff... although I've only had it with mezcal. It's a great accompaniment with fresh orange wedges. You're right, that umami flavor is great and contrasts well with the quasi-herbal flavor of the mezcal.

              1. d
                durhamois RE: Sarah Perry Jan 11, 2010 06:31 PM

                I brought some back with me from my last trip to Oaxaca, but I am almost out. I'm floored that it's so difficult to find, even online. If anyone finds a good source, please post a link.

                2 Replies
                1. re: durhamois
                  Sam Salmon RE: durhamois Jan 11, 2010 08:01 PM

                  This certainly brings back memories.

                  1. re: durhamois
                    n
                    Nessie65 RE: durhamois Jun 22, 2013 07:05 PM

                    You can order it from Fortnum and Mason in the UK--they just call it worm salt---I would check ebay too--you never know...

                    http://www.fortnumandmason.com/p-8218...

                  2. b
                    billbarany RE: Sarah Perry Jan 12, 2011 07:47 PM

                    Try this Rim the lip of a cold martini glass with sal de gusano
                    Blend Jicama with ice like you would a fruit daiquiri
                    stir in a fine blanco tequila (or mescal) shot to the mix
                    and pour into the glass.

                    and tell me how wickedly good that tastes!

                    I found my favorite brand
                    called Maria Luisa
                    on my last trip to Mexico
                    it is peppery and nutty in flavor
                    for those of you looking for it online
                    contact info for the company in mexico is

                    Gpo. Gastronomico
                    cocinamarialuisa@hotmail.com
                    Tel. (951) 133 6025
                    Cel. 044 951 547 0872
                    They are in Oaxaca

                    internet is not what it is like in the US.
                    very few small businesses have web sites
                    but people use email and cell phones.
                    send message in spanish

                     
                    1 Reply
                    1. re: billbarany
                      tatamagouche RE: billbarany Jan 13, 2011 04:28 AM

                      That is cool! Thanks.

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