June 7, 2012

Tribute to Tomatillo

I thought I knew what a tomatillo was…until I bought a pound of strange green peppers from Mexico I had never seen before instead and the grocery checker looked at me with pity and said: “these are NOT tomatillos”. 

I love tomatillo sauce!  I order it all the time at restaurants, but at this embarrassing moment in the grocery store I realized that I didn’t know what one actually looked like off the vine.  Surprisingly, the tomatillos I finally correctly purchased came in little papery green wrappers with a small, lime-green tomato inside.  Cute!  Tomatillos are related to tomatoes and grow in hot climates (Mexico, Texas).   Surprisingly, they are also incredibly sticky once removed from their shells.   A chef friend of mine assured me that this is a normal characteristic of these nightshades. 

Now that I have more time to cook, I am taking on some more advanced dishes (ie. more than two steps) and today is tomatillo shrimp day.  Here’s the recipe I adapted from Ingrid Hoffmann’s Tangy Tomatillo Shrimp dish:

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 lb fresh Poblano chilis (seeded and chopped)
  • ½ onion
  • 6 cloves (~1/3 bulb) minced garlic
  • 1 lb tomatillos (husked, rinsed, quartered)
  • 1.5 t salt
  • 3 T butter
  • 2 lb large shrimp
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves (chopped coarsely)

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add chilis, onion, and half the garlic.  Cook for ~5 minutes.
  2. Add tomatillos and 1 tsp salt.  Cook mixture on medium-low for ~10 minutes.
  3. Puree tomatillo sauce in a blender.
  4. Meanwhile, melt butter in a skillet and add shrimp, ½ t salt, pepper, and remaining garlic.  Cook ~2-3 minutes.
  5. Add blended tomatillo sauce and simmer until shrimp is fully cooked (~3-5 minutes).
  6. Serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro. 

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