Enjoy with tacos, tostadas, chilaquiles, tortillas, enfrijoladas, huevos rancheros and your other favourite Mexican dishes. Great drizzled over a fresh summery avocado and sweetcorn salad with extra lime or even as a condiment to fried eggs.
3 recipes below – grilled, raw and fermented.
It was when I visited Mexico 3 years ago that I first tried salsa verde; a sweet and sour, piquant sauce which I mainly ate spooned on to tacos or with chilaquiles verdes. I had never tasted a salsa like this and couldn’t identify the flavour. I asked around and learnt that the salsa was made with tomatillos.
Having not heard of them, I looked them up when I got home and saw that they looked like a smooth large green berry /or a small green tomato with a husk around it. I realised that this was not a fruit I would easily have access to in the UK. A quick search online found expensive canned ones sold and fresh ones nowhere to be found.
As fate had it, a few months later when summer hit, whilst doing my online veg shop at Riverford, I saw that they had tomatillo’s available for the brief, seasonal period of August. I bought a lot of them and experimented with them; charred under the grill, boiled, raw, fermented with different additions of coriander, garlic, onion, chilli and lime. Raw is great if you feel like a fresh and light summery salsa, that is great with sweet potato or fish tacos. Grilling adds a hint of smoke and richness that goes well with meat (I will definitely try charring them on a bbq this year for some added smoke).
To enjoy the unique flavour of this fruit, avoid adding herbs and spices to the salsa.
Fermented was the all important one so that I would have salsa for the whole year. I only just finished my fermented supply from last year a month or so ago. Just in time for the next batch. Living in a country where whatever fruit and vegetables you might want are available all year round (taste and quality aside) it was nice to experience the real seasonality of a fruit, preserving it for future dishes and knowing that I wouldn’t see it again until next summer. And here we are now.
Available now from Riverford
Cooked Salsa Verde
Boiling is the quickest way to make a cooked salsa verde (boil for 6 minutes instead of cooking under the grill and then proceed with the recipe below). The charring brings out the natural flavours of the tomatillo more effectively, caramelising and accentuating the sweetness with the added depth of smokiness. Recommended if you have the time.
400g tomatillos, rinsed and husks removed
One handful fresh coriander leaves
2 deseeded green chillies (I used jalapenos)
Zest & juice of 1 lime
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
2 spring onions
1 clove of garlic
1/2 tsp of sugar
- Turn your grill to the highest temperature, put the tomatillos on a tray with the chilli’s and grill for 5-8 minutes until the fruits are soft and slightly charred. Set aside to cool down completely.
- Meanwhile slice the spring onions, finely chop the garlic and macerate in the lime juice and vinegar for at least twenty minutes.
- Roughly chop the coriander and place in your food processor with the zest, salt and sugar, onion and garlic.
- Add the tomatillos including any of the juices from the tray.
- Pulse in a food processor until combined. It will breakdown very quickly, so do not overmix.
- The salsa can also be chopped by hand although it must be done finely, as the salsa should be smooth.
- Add a little water if the end result is too thick. The salsa should have quite a loose consistency e.g. it should be capable of being drizzled like a bottled chilli sauce.
- Mix all the ingredients together and season well with a little salt, tasting as you go and adding more lime, salt or sugar to your taste.
Will store in the fridge well in a clean and disinfected jar for several weeks.
Raw Salsa Verde
For a raw salsa verde, omit the grilling, roughly chop the tomatillos, combine with the other ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.
Will store in the fridge for approximately 4 days.
Fermented Salsa Verde
This will make you a bit less than a 1 litre jar of salsa. I omit the garlic due to its off putting pungency when opening the jar. It also muddies the flavour. For a fermented salsa I prefer to keep the flavours cleaner. The vinegar is also omitted as it is unnecessary.
Ensure that the jar you use is spotlessly clean and disinfected and that you use one with an airtight lid. I also wear latex gloves to avoid any contamination. If bacteria enters your jar, the salsa will go mouldy. This is particularly so with a salsa, where you do not have the sealant layer of liquid at the top of your jar to protect the ingredients.
Usually when measuring salt for fermentation, I use the rule of 100 g fruit / vegetable needs 2 g salt and a pinch extra for good measure.
One handful fresh coriander leaves
2 spring onions
3 deseeded green chillies (I used jalapenos)
Zest & juice of 2 limes
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp of sugar
1 tbsp water
- In a food processor combine all the ingredients and pulse until smooth.
- Tip into your jar. Clean around the sides of the jar, so that you do not have any drips on the inside of the jar. Vinegar is a good cleaner.
- Make sure you have some space at the top of the jar for the gasses
- Close the lid and then leave the jar in a room temperature environment (20 degrees is optimal).
- Leave out to ferment for a week minimum. I left mine out for a month, as I like a very tangy flavour.
- You will need to check the jar every few days for the first week to release the gases. This is why the gap at the top of the jar is important; to stop the jar from exploding. I found after a week there was no need to release the gases, the gap sufficed.
- Bear in mind that fermentation will occur faster in hot weather and will slow down in the cold. Therefore it is worth checking progress at regular intervals to smell the salsa and check its progress.
- Once you are happy with the taste, put the jar in the fridge. It should last a long time (my last batch lasted a year). I finished it before it had a chance to go bad and therefore am not sure of the ultimate longevity.
- Make sure that you serve from the jar with a clean spoon and that no fingers go inside to avoid bacteria developing. This will ensure it lasts longer.