05 August 2009
Tomatillos have arrived.
There is so much good food in season right now that it's hard for me to make choices when I go to the farmers market: lush greens, huge bouquets of broccoli, cauliflower, and romanesco; purple bulbs of kohlrabi, cabbage, beets and other new roots; beautiful varieties of sweet heirloom tomatoes; and then there are all of the berries and stone fruits. The donut peaches and sugar plums barely make it back to my house without being devoured on the way home. But these little green beauties wrapped up in their own natural parchment were just screaming out at me this week - tomatillos!
Tomatillos are like husked tomatoes but they are actually from the gooseberry family. They taste like a cross between a tomato, a plum, and rhubarb - slightly lemony and tart. If you have ever had good salsa verde in a Mexican restaurant, they are the staple ingredient.
I first made this dish about a month ago while I was visiting Mark in Utah. We found these gorgeous tomatillos that were from California and some fresh bay scallops in his local grocery store. We roasted a bunch of vegetables in the oven, blended them up into sauce, and served it over pan-seared scallops with a little sour cream and avocado. It was so light, fresh, and summery that I decided to recreate it once I was home, only this time I substituted fresh calamari (squid). The sauce is just about the most delicious summer salsa on the planet!
PAN FRIED CALAMARI (OR SCALLOPS) WITH ROASTED TOMATILLO SAUCE
1/2 lb. of cleaned squid chopped into 1-inch thick slices or 1/2 lb. of bay scallops
2 Tablespoons of bacon fat or clarified butter (ghee)
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
2 cups roasted tomatillo sauce (below)
1 Hass avocado
Creme fraiche or sour cream
1. Using a saute pan, render a few slices of bacon into about 3 tbsp. of fat.
2. Once the bacon is crispy and there is enough fat in the pan, remove the strips and save to crumble over a salad. You can also use clarified butter (ghee) for this dish since it also has a high smoking point, which in that case you'll want to season your squid with salt and pepper before frying. If you use bacon fat, it will already be salty so you can just season with black pepper.
3. Once fat is good and hot, drop squid into pan and saute over hi-heat until the white parts begin to brown a bit and the tendrils begin to curl up on the edges (3-4 minutes). You can taste it to be sure it's tender. Don't overcook the squid since it can become too rubbery.
4. Once the squid is cooked, remove from the pan and transfer to some paper towel to drain.
5. In the center of a serving bowl or plate, ladle about 1/4 cup of tomatillo sauce.
6. Arrange a handful of squid on top of sauce.
7. Spoon some creme fraiche over the squid and top with chopped avocado.
1/2 lb. tomatillos, husks and stems removed, thoroughly rinsed until no longer sticky
1 Anaheim chile pepper, stemmed, quartered, ribs and seeds removed
1 Green or purple (or red) pepper - stemmed, quartered, an seeds removed
5 cloves of garlic
1 onion quartered
3 Italian Roma tomatoes sliced in half
1 bunch of cilantro, leaves only
Juice from 1 lime
Sea salt to taste
1. Pre-heat oven to 450
2. Place tomatillos, peppers, tomatoes, onion, and garlic in roasting pan.
3. Roast vegetables until tops are charred (8-12 minutes).
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool
5. Spoon all the vegetables along with the juices that have collected in the pan into a blender
6. Add cilantro and blend slightly until you get a chunky sauce consistency. Add a little lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste. This sauce should be naturally sweet, slightly astringent, a little smoky, a little spicy, and slightly salty.
7. Refrigerate and use as a sauce for fish, meat, or eggs (huevos rancheros).