Fried tomatillos are delightfully akin to fried green tomatoes—but with that lovely lemony kick that make tomatillos so delicious, plus with a bit more "crunch" to them even after a turn in the hot oil. Use large tomatillos for this dish, otherwise, you'll have slices so small that you'll end up with more "fried" than "tomatillo."
Serve on their own as a fun appetizer, or put them on top of simple greens for a bit of tangy crunch on an easy salad.
- 4 large tomatillos
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
- 1 egg
- 2 cups bread crumbs (or 1 cup cornmeal)
- Canola oil (or vegetable oil) for frying
- Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)
Remove and discard the papery husks covering the tomatillos. Rinse the tomatillos clean and pat them dry (some have more of a sticky coat to them than others). Cut the tomatillos into 1/2-inch-thick slices (use or discard the rounded ends as you like).
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne, if using. In a second bowl, whisk the egg with 1/4 cup of water. Put the bread crumbs or cornmeal in a third bowl. Put the bowls in that order from left to right (or right to left if you're left-handed!): flour, egg, crumbs.
Bread one tomatillo slice at a time: use your left hand to put it in the flour, shake off any excess flour, then drop into the egg wash to coat, lift it out of the egg with your right hand and let any excess drip off, and then put in the bread crumbs or cornmeal and use your left hand to pat the coating all over and lift it out. Set on a tray or large plate and repeat with remaining tomatillo slices. (Keeping your left hand for "dry" activities and your right hand for "wet" will help minimize the bread-y coating that builds up on your hands, and the the tomatillo slices more evenly coated.)
Heat about 1/2 inch of oil in a wide, heavy pan over medium-high heat until the oil is about 375°F. If you don't have a thermometer, you can know it is hot enough when you submerge the end of a wooden spoon in the oil and the oil immediately and vigorously (but not violently) bubbles up around it. If those bubbles splatter or jump up the sides of the spoon, then the oil is too hot.
When oil is hot, fry as many coated tomatillo slices as fit in a single layer without crowding or touching in the pan. Fry until golden brown on one side, gently turn over using tongs, and fry until golden brown on the second side. Transfer to a cooling rack placed over paper towels or a baking sheet to drain. Repeat with remaining tomatillo slices. Sprinkle with salt (I like the texture and burst of flavor from coarse salt here) and serve hot.