Tomatillos (pronouned toe-mah-tee-yos) are native to Mexico and are available year-round in Jaltemba Bay. The tomatillo is a member of the nightshade family along with tomatoes, potatoes and peppers. And while this small (1-2 inch) round fruit resembles a green tomato, it has an inedible papery husk and a sweet, yet tart flavor completely unlike that of a regular tomato.
Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cuisine and are most often used to make salsa verde, a tangy green salsa served over tacos, tostadas, sopes, enchiladas and chilaquiles.
According to Rick Bayless, you should choose “medium-to-small tomatillos that have a purple blush” for the best flavor. “The bigger the tomatillo, the more watered down the flavor will be, and the green ones offer the greatest citrusy tang.”
I have tried roasting them, boiling them and even using fresh uncooked tomatillos – but each time, the flavor has been a little too tart. A few years ago I decided to ask my neighbor Susana to allow me to watch her make a batch of salsa verde so I could learn the traditional methods used in our region. Thank you Susana, for sharing your recipe and techniques!
Susana’s Salsa Verde
20 tomatillos, husks removed and washed to remove sticky coating
1-2 serrano chiles, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces with seeds intact
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup white onion, finely chopped
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped with a bit of stem
salt to taste
Place tomatillos in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover. Add a pinch of salt, and bring the water to a boil, cover, and simmer until the tomatillos are very soft, about 15 minutes.
In the meantime, saute the garlic, serrano chiles (seeds and all), and a pinch of salt in a little vegetable oil. When the chiles are bubbled in appearance (not browned), remove them from the heat and put them in the blender with a little of the tomatillo water. Pulse until ingredients are finely chopped and mixed. Set aside.
In the same medium sauce pan, saute the white onion (1-2 minutes). Add the blended chile mixture to the saute pan.
When the tomatillos are done cooking, remove them with a slotted spoon and transfer them to the blender. Pulse until you have a slightly chunky puree. Pour the blended tomatillos into the saute pan with the onions and chile mixture. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, until thickened to taste. Add additional tomatillo water if you desire a thinner sauce. When the consistency is right, add the cilantro and stir. Season with salt.
Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.
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