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One of my new favorite ingredients are tomatillos. A member of the nightshade family, tomatillos are green fruits that look similar to tomatoes and are surrounded by a papery husk. When purchasing tomatillos, the fruit should be firm and bright green. Ripe tomatillos will keep in the fridge for approximately two weeks, though they stay fresher longer if the husks are removed.

Tomatillos are the stars of salse verdes. According to Gourmet Sleuth, “The Aztecs domesticated the tomatillo and the fruit dates back to at least 800 B.C.”  According to Burpee seed company, tomatillos can be grown in the continental US. Who knew? I think this may be a new addition to my small garden.

Tilapia with Tomatillos:

  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds tilapia, 4 fillets
  • Coarse salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 to 10 tomatillos, husks peeled and diced
  • 1/2 bottled pale beer- I used Corona Light and drank the other half 🙂
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves, a palmful, plus a few sprigs for garnish

Season fish with salt, pepper, cumin, paprika. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil, 1 turn of the pan. Heat an ovenproof serving plate in a warm oven. Saute fish 3 minutes on each side or until opaque. Squeeze the juice of 1/4 lime over the fish and carefully slide the fillets onto warm platter. Cover the fish to keep it warm. Return pan to heat and add remaining tablespoon of oil, 1 turn of the pan. Over medium high heat, quickly saute the red onion, jalapeno and the garlic. Saute a minute or so, add the diced tomatillos with seeds and juices. Season mixture with coarse salt and saute the mixture of vegetables 5 minutes. Add the beer and the juice of 1/2 lime and cilantro to the pan. Simmer sauce 5 minutes longer, then spoon hot sauce down over the fish filets. Garnish platter with a few extra sprigs of the cilantro.