Eat Your Smut

It's hard to imagine what the brave soul was thinking who first tried huitlacoche, the black fungus that grows on sweet corn, also known as corn smut. But that pioneer was onto something. You can try huitlacoche, whose name comes from the Aztecan language Nahuatl, in the beautifully presented arroz al huitlacoche con calamares ($10) at El Don (5901 Westheimer, 713-334-1700). The fungus imparts an earthy flavor to the rice, turning it jet-black. This makes for a stark contrast with the thin slices of bright white calamari that top the rice. It all sits in a pool of creamy lime-green avocado salsa and pastel-pink chipotle sauce, which add a tartness as well as some heat to the dish.
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Paul Galvani