Salsa de Tomatillo

So many of the many wonderful tomatillo-based recipes out have one very important piece of information missing from them. Tomatillos are disgustingly sticky when unwashed, and a cursory wash will only make matters worse.

This sticky substance is a naturally occurring insecticide, and if you’ve ever gotten a mouthful of bug repellent, you’re smart enough to know insecticides do not taste good –  with the exception perhaps of small amounts of lemongrass, or citronella grass.

Wash your tomatillos. Excessively wash your tomatillos. Continue washing your tomatillos until the small amount of foam they produce is gone and they no longer feel sticky.

Beyond the lack of advice to give tomatillos the bath of their life before cooking them, there two other points of misinformation, or perhaps misconception. Firstly, just because something is Mexican food does not mean it requires lime juice. Shocking, I know. Tomatillos are fairly tart on their on. Your basic tomatillo sauce, for pork, enchiladas, etc, does not need the addition of lime juice. Secondly, tomatillos should be cooked sparingly. Overcooking can make them even more acidic.

This recipe yields a good amount of salsa, which begs the question, what to do with it all?

  1. Stored in air-tight freezer bags, the sauce keeps very well frozen without oxidizing.
  2. Mush 2 avocados, add a dollop of the sauce, salt, cilantro and lime juice and you have green guacamole (please no peas), one of the little known varieties of Mexico’s guacamole.
  3. Take 2 cups of the sauce, add 3/4 of a cup of fresh Mexican cream (or crème fraÎche or sour cream), cilantro and salt to taste, and you have the sauce for enchiladas Suizas.
  4. Braise diced pork in water or stock, add some of the sauce in the last half hour of cooking. Add cilantro.
  5. Skip the hollandaise and put it on poached eggs.
  6. ETC

Salsa de Tomatillo

  • Servings: 8 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 2 lbs tomatillo
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, rough chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dry thyme
  • 1/4 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 4 chiles verdes (Anaheim pepper), roasted, cleaned
  • 1/2 tbsp kosher salt

Remove the husks and stems from the tomatillos. Wash very well with warm water until foaming subsides and they no longer feel sticky. Place the tomatillos, chopped onion and garlic cloves in a pot, just covering with cold water. Cook at a simmer, just until the tomatillos turn a muted olive green and begin to soften.

Working in batches if necessary, coarsely puree all the ingredients. The sauce should be just slightly chunky. Add enough of the cooking water to keep the blender or food processor blades moving and to thin out the sauce to the desired consistency.

Add finely minced cilantro to taste.

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