If you are going to be serving Mexican Food for your guests, you will want to offer Salsa Verde (green Salsa) as well as a Salsa Rojo, (red Salsa). It is made with tomatillos instead of red tomatoes. There are many different salsas made with the tomatillo as well as other sauces used when cooking genuine Mexican Cuisine. They have an exquisite and distinctive flavor, that can range from semi-sweet to so acidy that your salsa will require a touch of sugar.
The tomatillo is a relative of the tomato and member of the nightshade family. They provide that tart flavor in many of Mexican green sauces. The tomatillo has a paper thin hunk that you remove before using them. Like the tomato, they can be used both raw and cooked, so there is great variety in salsa verde and can taste complete different from one house to the next.
The tomatillo can be several colors when ripe, including yellow, green, or even purple. In fact I have planted seeds and had some fruits be pale green, almost yellow, some nice and green and some purple all from the same group of seeds. Plus, I will warn you, if you leave any to die in the field, you will have a surprise the following year. They will spread out and you will need to thin the new crop or you will be overran with them. If you are going to grow your own, two or more plants are needed for proper pollination.
The Aztecs domesticated the tomatillo as well as corn and their diet included avocados, tomatoes and squash. They had a passion for chocolate. Their main food was the tlaxcalli, which was a corn-meal pancake similar to the modern day tortilla to which they added meat from the hunt and no doubt a salsa made with tomatoes or tomatillos.
If you have found a place to purchase the tomatillos, lets make a simple Salsa Verde, and taste test the results.
To prepare the tomatillos, strip off the paper thin husks and rinse the fruit in cold water. Next you have a choice of which way you wish to go. You can put them into a sauce pan, cover with water and simmer over low heat until they are soft and tender. You will need to turn them over during the cooking time as they tend to float so the top will not get cooked if you overlook this step. Or you can grill them to blacken them, which will give them a more intense flavor. (My wife cooks them in water, I blacken them on the grill, it is the choice of the cook)
- 6 medium tomatillos
- 1 medium serrano chili
- 3 cloves unpeeled garlic
- juice of ½ lime
- ½ medium white onion minced
- 10 sprigs of cilantro minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Fire up your grill and grill the tomatillos, Serrano chili and garlic, turning often until they all have charred spots on all sides. Remove the pieces to a plate as they are ready. Some will be ready much sooner than the others.
- When they are all finished , remove the outer skin of the garlic, place everything into your food blender. Give it a quick spin in the blender but only for a second or two, you want it all chopped but you don't want soup
Chefs Tip: If you choose to cook the tomatillos don’t let them boil or they will split open and lose their seeds and pulp into the water. And son’t let the size of the serrano fool you, they are hot little devils, so one is usually enough.
For more exciting recipes check out Chef William’s Mexican cookbook at http://chefwilliamlikes.me/Traditional Mexican Fiesta Recipes
Eat Healthy, Laugh Often and Enjoy Life~