Saturday, November 30, 2013

Fresh Tomatillos

A year ago, I had never heard of tomatillos. Then I came across some Mexican recipes using them, and started noticing tinned ones in the supermarket.

Tinned tomatillos at the supermarket.
Natually, I assumed this was a foreign produce that could not be grown in New Zealand. You can imagine my excitement when I spotted tomatillos for sale at a market in Auckland, along with some amazing-looking heirloom tomatoes.

Heirloom tomatoes and tomatillos grown in Clevedon.
While the pictures on the tins make tomatillos look like green tomatoes, it turns out they are a bit like cape gooseberries as well, with the fruit covered by a papery husk. I was surprised at how waxy the skin was underneath. If these little green balls had not had their natural wrapping, I might have assumed that the retailer had resorted to some special techniques for enhancing the appearance of their product.

Tomatillos look like a cross between green tomatoes and cape gooseberries.
In terms of texture and flavour, I found the tomatillos to be firmer and crisper than red tomatoes, and significantly more sour. Rather than trying to eat them raw (apart from a wee sliver for curiosity's sake), I thought they would be much more enjoyable cooked, as in fried green tomatoes. Since tomatillos are a Mexican ingredient though, I decided to try making salsa verde instead.

Apparently, tomatillos are more commonly boiled, but I chose the pan-roasting method for a tastier dip.

Pan-roasting the tomatillos.
 I also gave some vine tomatoes a similar treatment to make a salsa roja (roasted red salsa) for comparison.
Salsa roja and salsa verde.
Both were delicious, and not just eye-catchingly different in colour, but also in flavour (the green tomatillo one was more tart, as you would expect, with a crisper taste than the cooked tomato one). You could make this for your Christmas feast and serve with corn chips, tortillas, or grilled meats, and if you have leftovers, this would be great for the Mexican breakfast dish of huevos divorciados ("divorced eggs").

This post is part of Our Growing Edge, a monthly blogging event aimed at inspiring us to try new things. This month it is hosted by Becky from My Utensil Crock.


  1. They look very interesting. I don't think I've seen them before!

    1. They're definitely a novelty for me too! I love Mexican food though, so having the salsa around has been an excuse to make tacos and enchiladas.


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