Tomatillo Salsa Verde (Green Salsa)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Salsa verde, or green salsa, can be deceptive, as the color green is not always associated with something hot.

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One time on vacation in Mexico, we were at a late buffet lunch with other tourists after an arduous four hour bus ride and wandering around in the heat among Mayan ruins. The male half of a retired couple from Washington State saw a green sauce with white seeds, not unlike the one pictured above, and thought perhaps it was a salad dressing. So he generously helped himself to two large spoonfuls on top of his lettuce leaves. Then he sat next to us and attempted at conversation. A few moments later he found out, to his gentle taste-buds' great misfortune, the salsa was made with habaneros. Red all over, he peeped out a weak "excuse me," and flew out of his seat.

Although it can be made mouth-searing, as our friend above had found out, green salsa does not have to be hot. You can adjust the spiciness yourself by adding more or less peppers. The recipe below calls for two unseeded serrano peppers, which by my palate (which is accustomed to spicy foods) is medium hot. Serrano peppers are green and slightly smaller but hotter than jalapenos. You can de-seed the peppers, removing the white membrane, which when broken releases the spicy chemical, thereby disarming the peppers for the most part while still retaining the flavor.

Green salsa may be served as a dip with tortilla chips, or as a sauce with meat or fish (such as the red snapper).

Tomatillo Salsa Verde
(makes about 1 1/2 cups)

You will need
1 lb fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1/2 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 serrano peppers, stem ends removed, halved
1/3 cup cilantro sprigs
Juice of 1 lime
Salt to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place tomatillos, onion and serrano peppers onto a foiled baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until tomatillos are browned and softened. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

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2. Place the roasted tomatillos, onion and serranos in a food processor or blender. Add fresh cilantro, lime juice and salt. Process until pureed. Place salsa into the serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate until chilled. Serve cold.

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