Of the things I miss most from America-land, proper Mexican food is pretty close to the top of the list.
I crave the staff lunches made by the Mexican woman who was a prep chef in a Denver restaurant where I waited tables. The dark, 20+ ingredient mole poblano, the spicy rice, the salsas, the fresh vegetables, the hot tortillas. It was fresh and clean and filling.
My eyes glaze over when I think about the road-side shops in Mexico where a $1.50 fish taco comes out of the kitchen as a piece of perfectly grilled fish perched on a handmade corn tortilla. The variety of salsas and pickles and sauces are what make the meal, as you build your own right at the table.
After a few years of Tex-Mex fast food growth, Sydney over the past 12 or so months has been the focus of a Mexican restaurant invasion. Very exciting, right? Wrong.
Expensive fit-outs with lots of contrived kitsch, expensive food with lots of contrived combinations to match. Very little true flavour – Mexican or Tex-Mex or otherwise. The critics are moaning “Is this trend over yet? What’s next?” when they should be instead demanding “When will someone get it right?”
I mentioned in my April In My Kitchen post about a fabulous range of salsas discovered recently – made by a Mexican-American, imagine that – but it is an expensive habit, and you know I like to make things myself.
So you cannot imagine how excited I was to discover tomatillos at a market recently. I should have bought more but on that day a single $5 bowl – weighing in at about 500 g on my kitchen scale – and a couple black-green jalapenos were enough to get me started.
Note to self, go buy more tomatillos asap, we’re out of salsa…
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
This is how salsa should be. Fresh, smokey, zingy, spicy if you like it spicy, and perfect on just about anything. Eat with wild abandon.
- 500 g [1 lb] tomatillos
- 3 – 4 jalapeno peppers
- 3 – 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1/2 bunch coriander [cilantro]
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- sea salt
- lime juice to taste
Roughly chop coriander leaves and stems, set aside. Peel tomatillos and rinse to remove any stickiness.
Roast tomatillos with jalapenos and garlic under a hot grill [broiler] until everything is just charred.
Cover to steam while cooling, remove skins and seeds from jalapenos, remove skins from garlic. Blend all ingredients to desired consistency and season as necessary.
Place tomatillos, jalapenos and garlic cloves in a single layer on a foil-lined baking tray. Roast under a medium-high grill [broiler] for 15-25 minutes, turning and flipping ingredients every 5 mins or so. Tomatillos should be lightly charred on all sides and beginning to collapse, garlic cloves should be soft with dark peels, and jalapeno skin blackened.
Move from oven to a bowl covered with a plate to steam and cool for approximately 10 mins. You may need to do this in batches so that nothing burns.
Peel blackened skin off jalapenos, remove stem and seeds. Peel garlic. Process half the tomatillos, half the jalapenos and all the garlic to a smooth-ish puree. Add remaining tomatillos, all the coriander and the remaining jalapenos to taste, process roughly.
Stir through vinegar, a big pinch of sea salt and lime juice to taste.
- Salsa verde is supposed to be quite mild, I don’t do mild well so I tend to add quite a bit of chilli to this, make it to suit your taste.
vegan // vegetarian // gluten free // dairy free