Tomatillos are one of those vegetables that seem to be shrouded in much confusion. It is not a tomato, though it can claim a familial relationship, nor is this botanical berry used as a fruit. A native to Mexico and found through the great plains of North America this cousin to the tomato, pepper, eggplant and potato is a fat little orb with a protective papery coat known as a calyx. Green tomatillos are the most commonly found, however, purple and yellow varieties show up in the market as well. They all should be firm and round with a deep coloration. Upon peeling the skin of the tomatillo will be tacky to the touch – they simply need to be washed. Rarely, the tomatillo is eaten raw – they have a rather sour note, and a mealy texture.
Prepare them by grilling, blanching or sautéing for a few moments before proceeding with them. Or, if you have the patience try slicing them and breading them like you would for fried green tomatoes. It makes a prefect hors d‘oeuvres.
Grilled Summer Corn and Tomatillo Relish - yields approx. 6 to 8 servings
4 ears of Corn - as fresh as possible
1/2 pound fresh tomatillo
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 medium red onion - diced
1 chili - seeds and membrane discarded; diced such as serrano or jalapeno
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Clean the corn of its husk and silky hairs. On a very hot grill cook the corn to blister and lightly char. Carefully cut the corn kernels from the cob. Peel the husks from the tomatillos and wash. Roughly chop the tomatillo.
Heat a 4 quart sauce pan over a medium heat and add the oil. Add the onion and chili cooking until the onions become translucent 5 minutes. Add in the coriander and cook for 30 seconds longer. Add in the tomatillo, corn and cider vinegar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered for 10 to 15 minutes. Mix in the cilantro and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold over grilled chicken, poached fish or even try it as a side dish.