In Mexico, whenever you go to the market and ask for tomatoes, it’s quite likely that the vendor will ask you “green or red?” They don’t ask because they want to sell you unripe versions of the famous Solanum lycopersicum tomato, native to Mexico and which is used in ketchup and is the heart of many Italian sauces. The green tomatoes that I’m talking about are another species of the nightshade variety. It’s also Mexican, but it less popular outside of that country. It is called Physalis ixocarpa, but you could also call it a tomatillo or Mexican Husk Tomato. This is a very important fruit, as its juices make up the essence of famous Mexican sauces, sometimes more than the red tomato even.
Tomatillos are a source of omega fatty acids. 34 grams of this fruit contains up to 130 mg of these fatty acids, a modest amount of vitamin C (7% of your daily needs), and they also provide minerals, like manganese and potassium (both at 3% of our daily required needs). They also contain antioxidants and are low in calories. But most of all, tomatillos are an irresistible source of flavor that is difficult to describe but that provides a slightly acidic taste to any sauce. It’s better to try it than to think about it. I’m going to share a few recipes with you that you can incorporate as you wish, so that you can enjoy this wonderful flavor:
Mexican Tomatillo Salsa
- 500 gr tomatillo or Mexican husk tomatoes
- 3 Tbsp. cilantro
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 to 2 serrano peppers
- ½ onion
- Salt to taste
- Clean the tomatillos, remove the skin and wash them well. They generally have a thin, sticky layer over them.
- Grill or sauté them with the serrano pepper. You don’t need to add any oil. Cook until soft and slightly different in color. Turn constantly to ensure uniform cooking.
- Thinly dice the onion and cilantro and set aside to be mixed in later.
- This salsa can be prepared in a large mortar and pestle or you could also blend all ingredients together by using short pulses in the blender. If you’re going to use a mortar and pestle, mix the garlic with the salt to create a puree, or completely blend the garlic.
- Add the serrano pepper and mix. You can leave the pepper seeds in or remove them so the salsa is not too spicy. Add the tomatillos and continue blending until creating a salsa.
- Lastly, add the cilantro and onion that were previously diced, and mix perfectly.
- Season and add more salt if necessary.
Grilled Chicken in Tomatillo sauce
- 500 grams tomatillo
- ½ onion
- 1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers
- 2 garlic cloves
- 800 grams chicken breast or chunks of chicken, whichever you prefer
- ½ c. cojita cheese or queso fresco
- ¼ c. cilantro
- ½ c. water or chicken broth
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean the tomatillo and dice into pieces. It doesn’t matter if they’re not equal in size.
- Thinly dice the onion, garlic, and pepper. If you don’t like spicy recipes, you can leave the pepper out of the recipe or you could remove the seeds to make it less spicy.
- Add a bit of oil to a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until caramelized. Then add the pepper and tomatillo. Sauté until the tomatillos soften.
- Season with salt and pepper. Then add the water or broth and lemon juice. Continue to heat until the mixture boils down a bit.
- Slice the chicken, or if you’re using chicken chunks, add them as they are to the sauce and bake at 180?C for approximately 30 minutes, or until the chicken is well cooked. Remember to use a frying pan that you can bake as well, if not you’ll have to put it in a different dish, or a baking sheet.
- Once the chicken is well cooked, add the cheese. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Serve with corn tortillas or a bit of rice.
- 800 grams tomatillo
- 1 ½ c. sugar
- 2 c. water
- 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
- Clean and cut the tomatillos into quarters or slices. Add the tomatillos to a pot.
- Add the water and cook until softened and until they turn a darker or lighter green.
- Add the sugar once the tomatillos are well cooked, then add the lemon juice.
- Heat over low heat without stirring until the mixture thickens. Bring to a boil and gently stir the jam. Once it has reached the texture you prefer, remove from heat and jar.
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