The tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica), like the tomato it resembles, is a member of the nightshade family that also includes potatoes, eggplant, and tobacco. It is most common in Mexican cooking where it is used in green, citrusy salsas like the one here. Mating it with the medium-hot jalapeño adds a bit of zip to the sauce without overpowering the scallops. These enchiladas may be served as part of buffet or as simple dinner, either alone or with Mexican rice.
1 pound fresh tomatillos (you can use canned tomatillos if fresh are not available but skip the charring)
1 or 2 fresh jalapeños, depending on your taste and the hotness of the chiles
1½ medium onion, about 200 g
3 or 4 cloves garlic, chopped
Kernels from one ear of corn, about 4 oz., or an equivalent amount of thawed frozen corn
½ pound bay scallops, thawed if frozen
2 cups seafood stock, or one bottle clam juice plus water to make up 2 cups
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
8 corn tortillas
Oil or lard
Salt and pepper
½ cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
This recipe is adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen (Scribner, NY 1996).
Husk and rinse the tomatillos. Put them and the jalapeños onto a baking sheet and place under a very hot broiler for about 5 or 6 minutes. Turn over and char the other side for a further 5 or 6 minutes. Put the chiles under a kitchen towel and put the tomatillos with any juices into a bowl. When the jalapeños are cool enough to handle, rub off their skin and remove stem and seeds. Add to bowl with tomatillos. Set aside.
Coarsely chop one onion. Heat about 1 tbsp. oil or lard in a heavy, deep skillet (cast iron is best) over medium-high heat. Cook stirring regularly until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Set aside to cool a bit.
Place the tomatillos, chiles, onions, and garlic into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until mixture is smooth but still chunky. Wipe out the cast iron skillet and add another tablespoon of oil or lard to it. Heat over high heat until the oil just begins to smoke then pour in the contents of the food processor bowl all at once. Careful: it will splatter a bit. Turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has darkened and thickened. Add the stock and simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the cilantro. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Preheat the oven to 350° (325° for convection)
Place the tortillas in a steamer over boiling water to soften.
Chop the remaining ½ onion into small dice and coarsely chop the scallops. Sauté onion over medium heat until just softened. Add the corn and toss for a couple of minutes. Add the scallops and sauté for a further couple of minutes until done. Add about ¼ cup of salsa and heat through.
Spread about ¼ cup of salsa on the bottom of a shallow baking pan about 8” by 10”. Put about 2 Tbsp. of the scallop mixture on a tortilla and roll. Set in the pan. Do the same with the rest of the tortillas, lining them up in the pan. Cover with good amount of salsa and sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes or until the enchiladas are warmed through and the cheese is melted.