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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Savory and Sweet Atoles at Antojitos Salvadoreños Aminta

Posted By on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 at 7:30 AM

Atol shuco, $3. - JACK CHEN
  • Jack Chen
  • Atol shuco, $3.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A few months ago I was sitting at the counter of Antojitos Salvadoreños Aminta ― the open-air stall in the Mission Market Food Mall with the plastic hanging gardens and the big-screen televisions ― when the cook brought a gourd bowl of atol to the guy who'd just sat down next to me. In the time it took me to polish off one of my pupusas he downed the cornmeal porridge, alternating spoonfuls and sips, then gave a polite nod to the server and left. I looked over the menu to find it, and spotted a sign taped to the pillar next to my stool. I resolved to return some wet weekday for a liquid brunch.

Atol de elote, $3. - JACK CHEN
  • Jack Chen
  • Atol de elote, $3.

When a friend and I took our places at the counter last week, we asked the server which of the atoles we should order (all $3) ― elote (sweet corn), piña (pineapple), or shuco. The question turned into a straw poll of our neighbors, their debate resolving itself in a compromise. We'd order two, one savory and one sweet.

The savory: atol shuco (sometimes spelled chuco) ― a bluish-tinged field corn ground fine and simmered in water until the porridge became smooth and custardy. From the bottom of the bowl, we dredged up black beans; the grainy golden puree floating on top was made with toasted pumpkin seeds. It was salty, nutty, and sustaining, and we shook a few drops of hot sauce into the bowl for the vinegary bite as much as the heat.

The steaming, pale-yellow atol de elote had the sweetnesss and creamy consistency of of a shake, punctuated by the sugary pops of fresh corn kernels. It was easy to love, the kind of breakfast that you eat before a 10-mile hike, then forget the trail mix you've brought along to keep your energy up. It was the kind of breakfast that keeps a man working outdoors for hours, too much sustenance for us to take in at one sitting. The server brought coffee cups for me to pour the leftovers into, and I took them home. An hour later, before sticking the atol de elote into the refrigerator, I took a sip. It was still hot.

Antojitos Salvadoreños Aminta:

In the Mission Market Mall, 2590 Mission (at 22nd St.), 648-4737.

Follow us on Twitter: @sfoodie. Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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