Huitlacoche, a rare foodstuff whose looks improve the further removed it is from its natural state
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Why good clean fungus is on the very best menus

Huitlacoche, a rare foodstuff whose looks improve the further removed it is from its natural state, has gained superfood status in the States. Of course, the truffley mould which grows on the ears of corn is not unreasonably considered a blight in most countries, including the US, but it has been harvested for it’s culinary cache in Mexico for centuries.

The leading light of modern mexican cuisine, Enrique Olvera, offers a very fine Huitlacoche Tamal at his restaurant Pujol in Mexico City. It comes on a bed of Salsa Verde and is topped with a warm Oaxaca cheese foam and sings with the rich earthy flavour of Mexico’s favourite fungus. Here he shares the recipe, for the adventurous, and many-utensiled cook to try at home.

Huitlacoche Tamal with Warm Oaxaca Cheese Foam

Serves four


Huitlacoche Puree

50g butter

100g diced onion

2 cloves crushed garlic

500g chopped huitlacoche

Salt to taste

Salsa Verde

150g green tomatillo tomatoes

1 clove sliced garlic

50g sliced onion

1/2 serrano chilli, sliced in rounds

40g fresh coriander

Huitlacoche Mix

40g butter

60g diced white onion

20g crushed garlic

250g chopped huitlacoche

Salt to taste

300 grams roughly chopped tomatoes, peeled

Tamal (makes 15 tamales)

750g cornmeal dough

500g lard

Salt to taste

250g huitlacoche puree

400ml water

500g stewed huitlacoche

15 30x30cms banana leaves

Oaxaca Cheese Foam

250g diced Oaxaca cheese

250 ml water

250g whipping cream

0.7g xanthic gum

Chilli Mix

20 guajillo chillis, seeds removed

20 ancho chillis, seeds removed

Presentation Ingredients

120g huitlacoche puree

1 batch (see above) salsa verde

4 tamales (without banana leaves)

1 serrano chilli, cut into paper-thin slices

1 spring onion, cut into rings

8g purple epazote sprouts

100g Oaxaca cheese foam (see above)

Chilli mix


Huitlacoche Puree

Warm the butter in a skillet, sauté the onion and garlic until lightly browned. Add the huitlacoche and cook for 15 minutes. Season, blend and pass through a fine sieve. Set aside.

Salsa Verde

Place the green tomatoes, onion, garlic and serrano chilli on a comal (flat, griddle-like pan). Roast until golden brown. Season and blend with the coriander. Set aside.

Huitlacoche Mix

In a skillet sauté onions and garlic in butter. Add the huitlacoche and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat. Season and add tomatoes. Cook for a further 5 minutes over medium heat and then set aside.


Place the cornmeal dough, lard, salt and huitlacoche puree in a bowl. Knead by hand or blend with a wooden spatula until it forms a smooth, dark paste. Add the water and the huitlacoche mix and set aside.

Place the banana leaves on the comal/griddle to soften and change colour a little. Place 160 grams of the tamal mixture in the centre of a leaf and spread with a spatula to form a 12x12cm square. Fold the ends of the leaf over the mixture and close the tamal. After the tamales are complete, warp them individually in tin foil and place them in a steamer. Steam for 55 minutes. Leave the tamales wrapped in the leaves until ready to serve.

Leftover tamales can be kept for up to three days if refrigerated in an airtight container.

Oaxaca Cheese Foam

Cook the cheese in water over a low heat for 30 minutes until all the whey separates out. Strain and keep the whey only. Add the whipping cream and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the xanthic gum and beat with a mixer. Place two batches of the mix in a large soda siphon and keep at 60 degrees C.

Chilli Mix

Toast the chillis in the oven at 90 degrees C for 40 minutes. Mix ingredients in a blender until they form a fine powder. Place the mix in a gauze cloth and tie off the top. Set aside.


Draw a line of puree down one side of the plate. Create a base of salsa and place the unwrapped tamal on it. Set the Serrano chilli on top of the tamal, then one onion ring, some epazote sprouts, and top it all off with the cheese foam. Tap the gauze pouch over the tamal just before serving to dust it with the fine chilli powder. Repeat for the remaining three plates.