Hello again everyone, I hope you’ve had a great week. Mine was comparatively quiet but it’s been a good one, if a tad too heavy on the salsa near the end.
Why? Because I recently stumbled upon a discussion of certain a mexican restaurant in the states and what exactly went into their tomatillo salsa. I had no vested interest in the outcome, having never visited Abuelo’s and living roughly 6 timezones away from it, but I was curious about some of the recipes that came up.
Green chilli, herbs and pineapple have always piqued my interest as a combination and adding tomatillos only makes it more enticingly out there. But what if that were kiwi?
Well, I set to work testing out a few variations and kind of overdid things but here’s what I found out:
Much as I enjoy the texture of kiwi seeds, kiwi is quite significantly more juicy than pineapple. Even with a tablespoon of oil blended in, it just doesn’t reach the same smooth consistency. Adding drier vegetables like carrots, turnips or radishes might fix that problem but, in doing so, the flavour would be irrevocably changed and, quite honestly, the kiwi already detracts from the recipe there, too.
Kiwi is a great sweet and acidic fruit and it really livens up a salad. I’m normally a big fan but, in this instance, pineapple does the job far better.
Pineapple is sweet and acidic, too, but it’s also bright and tropical. It has tones which better contrast with the green, grassy herbs, the smooth tomatillos and the deeper, darker green flavour of the jalapeños. I can’t say for sure that pineapple is what the restaurant uses but, if not, it should be.
So, having made my choice of fruit, I next decided to focus on the herbs. Both parsley and coriander provided the same green grassiness but the coriander was a little lighter and fresher tasting. Better paired with the tomatillos and better letting the chilli’s flavour stand out.
Compared to parsley, coriander is clearly the better option. Especially as it lacks the same harsh, almost peppery finish.
Mint, however, is a viable alternative and, while not quite the ideal coriander substitute in a fresh salsa that it is in a cooked green chilli sauce, it’ll still do well enough for those with a genetic aversion to the more common salsa herb.
And that’s most of what my testing resulted in – A preference for the established choices of pineapple and corriander. The only places where I really decided to deviate from the norm were in adding extra garlic and leaving out the salt. The latter simply being because my tinned tomatilloes came pre-salted.
Plus, while I may come back and experiment with different chillies and citrus juices in the future, I can’t get my full range of peppers right now and I’m a little salsa’d out. Here’s the recipe that I settled on:
1 11Oz (~310g) tin tomatilloes
150g (~5 rings) pineapple
2 green jalapeños
2 cloves of garlic
½ a large onion (or 1 small one)
½ a lime’s worth of juice
1tsp light-coloured honey or agave nectar
And a small handful of coriander leaves
Drain and rinse the tomatilloes to remove as much of the brine as possible, then chop and deseed the chillies. Or don’t. Your call really. Depends what heat you’re after.
Finally, blend everything together to the consistency of your choice and viola: Gentle, herby salsa with a bright, tropical tang in just three sentences of method. It’s so simple and really quite enjoyable, though I’m sure it would be even better made using fresh pineapple and with a regular, red salsa on the table for flavour contrast.
Made my way, it only has a mild
but that was never the point of the jalapeños, anyway. They were more there for the darker green flavour that balanced out the light herb and nearly creamy tomatillo notes.
If you want a milder version to share with friends and family, try roasted poblano. And, if you don’t mind hotter, why not add a little lemon spice jalapeño when they come into season? Their flavour would work wonderfully with this bright and tangy salsa, so long as you leave in the regular ‘peños, too.
It’s a pleasant dip on its own but I could also see this going great with salads and white fish.
That’s all for this weekend, though.