JOPLIN, Mo. —
- Tomatillos are related to tomatoes (both are in the nightshade family), and their name is a translation of "green tomato." But they are not the same thing as green tomatoes. Tomatillos grow inside a papery husk and have a whiter, meatier inside than a tomato.
- It is a staple of Mexican cooking and now grows everywhere in the western hemisphere.
- When shopping for tomatillos, look for the smaller ones. They have a sweeter flavor than the bigger, golf ball-sized ones. The husk is the best indicator: Pick fresh, light brown husks, and avoid the shriveled, dried husks. The fruits should be firm and free of defects.
- About that sticky stuff on the surface: It's similar to sap. Wash it off before eating.
- When preparing, all that needs to be discarded are the husks. The texture is firm when raw, but softens when cooked. And cooking alters the flavor: The fruits are tart and citrus-like when raw, but sweeten with a nutty flavor when roasted.
Salsa verde (raw or roasted variations)
8 ounces tomatillos, husked and rinsed
Either 2 serrano or 1 jalapeno peppers, stemmed
5 or 6 sprigs fresh cilantro (thick stems removed), roughly chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
Raw version: Roughly chop the tomatillos and peppers. In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, peppers, cilantro and 1/4 cup water. Process to a coarse puree, then scrape into a serving dish.
Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Roasted version: Preheat a broiler. Roast the tomatillos and peppers on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side, 4 to 5 minutes.
In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatillos, peppers and juices from broiling pan. Add the cilantro and 1/4 cup water, blend to a coarse puree and scrape into a serving dish.
Rinse the onion under cold water, then shake to remove the excess moisture. Stir into the salsa and season with 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Source: Food Network
4 large tomatillos
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
2 cups bread crumbs or 1 cup cornmeal
Canola or vegetable oil for frying
Coarse salt for sprinkling (optional)
Cut tomatillos into 1/2-inch slices. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper and cayenne. In a second bowl, whisk the egg with 1/4 cup of water. Put the bread crumbs or cornmeal in a third bowl.
Bread each tomatillo slice by putting it in the flour. Shake off any excess flour, then dip in egg wash to coat. Let any excess drip off, then put in the bread crumbs or cornmeal. Set on a tray or large plate and repeat with remaining tomatillo slices.
Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a wide, heavy pan over medium-high heat, about 375 degrees. Fry as many coated tomatillo slices as fit without crowding or touching in the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side. Use tongs to gently turn over, then fry until golden brown on the second side.
Transfer to a cooling rack placed over paper towels or a baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining tomatillo slices. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve hot.