Tomatillos are part of the nightshade and tomato family, primarily grown in Mexico and Central America. Tomatillo translates to "little tomato" in the Mexican dialect or "little lantern" in Guatemala. Tomatillos are produced with a paper-like husk wrapped around the fruit, and as they develop, the husk splits and turns color from green to brown as the fruit ripens, much like a gooseberry. Most tomatillos are green, with some varieties found to be red or even purple color to them. Tomatillos have a sour, tart flavor adding almost a lemony taste to the dishes they're in, and are most commonly seen blended into Salsa Verde, served as a dipping sauce for tortillas. If you were to bite into a raw tomatillo, you might be put off by its tart taste; however, cooking tomatillos help to sweeten the fruit, removing some sourness from the tomatillo.
For this Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa recipe, the tomatillos are poached in salted water with garlic cloves and onions until they've softened. Then, they're blended with red chile powder, cumin, fresh cilantro, and salt, producing a refreshing yet mildly spicy salsa that can be served either warm or cold, depending on the dish. Typically, you'll have a warm tomatillo salsa spooned on top of enchiladas or tacos, with a complex version used to dunk tortilla chips into or drizzle on burrito bowls.
If you're new to using tomatillos, you'll notice that once you remove the husk, the fruit will have a sticky feel - rinse them underwater to remove the natural stickiness. If fresh tomatillos are unavailable at your local market, you can also find canned tomatoes that are already cooked and cut up that you can use as a substitute.
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