One of my favourite fruits is now in season in the Southern Hemisphere. Even though it’s hard to find, it’s a must for food lovers – the Tomatillo (say ‘toe-ma-TEA-yo’ NOT ‘toe-ma-TILL-oh’).
The tomatillo is related to the Cape Gooseberry. The firm, pale green flesh is surrounded by a paper-like husk. As the fruit matures, the husk will go from ‘sticky tape’ to ‘papery’, drying out and usually splitting open. A staple of Mexican cuisine, the fruit has a tart, melon flavour when young and bright green, but as it matures to a more yellowish colour it takes on a profound sweetness and lemon-balm flavour which adds amazing zip to sauces and salads. Have fun using it for the different flavours as it matures.
The tomatillo is used widely in South America and Mexico. Australians, who are not usually connoisseurs of the cuisines, don’t know this fruit very well and it’s not widely available. But, you can grow your own, it’s easy and a delightful treat. They store well out of the husk in sealed plastic bags for a few weeks and you can even slice and freeze them. If it’s not available fresh, you can buy it tinned; the flavour is a little different than fresh, but it still gives you that wonderful mixture of tart and sweet and makes your taste buds want for more.
Once you learn to use this wonderful fruit, it brings a whole new dimension to your culinary repertoire. Check out my tomatillo chipotle salsa recipe and your fish tacos or barbecued chicken will never be the same again. This salsa provides a counterpoint to bland and rich foods with its sweet & sour, astringent, green-plum flavour. It is delicious on a piece of mild cheese, chicken breast or barbecued meat.
Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa
8 tomatillos, husked, chopped
1 jalapeno chilli, with seeds, chopped
1 tsp chipotle chilli puree
1 small handful coriander leaves
¼ cup water
½ small white onion, diced
¼ tsp sea salt
- Put the tomatillos, chillies, coriander, and water in a blender and blend until very smooth. Pour into a medium-sized non-reactive bowl, and stir in the onion and salt. Use the same day as made.
Makes about 2 cups