One of my favorite restaurants in the outskirts of Destin Florida is a seafood restaurant that has the best fried green tomato appetizer I’ve ever had the luxury of trying. Crispy and tart fried green tomatoes are paired with briny lump crab meat and rich hollandaise. For me, it’s the ultimate appetizer because I’m head over heels in love with hollandaise and crab is my absolute favorite type of seafood, throw in something crispy and fried and I’m set.

The other day we had one small green tomato leftover so I set out to make my own variation at home. Seeing as I only had one lonely tomato I obviously needed more so I made my over to the grocery store, certain that I’d find oodles of green tomatoes. It is after all, prime tomato season. After searching high and low and coming up empty handed, I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to be making fried green tomatoes that night and I’d have to change my game plan. With my head held low and my heart full of disappointment, I started to shuffle towards the meat and seafood department determined to find something else. That’s when something green caught my eye… tomatillos. It was like a light from the heavens… (err or maybe the ceiling) was shining down begging for me to take them home with me. Similar in texture and taste to green tomatoes, tomatillos are an excellent variation on the dish. In fact, I think that I may have liked it (gasp)… better. This is the number one lesson in cooking in that you cannot always plan your meals, sometimes you’ve got to go with flow and let the market decide for you.

Tomatillos are a Mexican fruit coincidentally coined the nickname tomate verde, meaning green tomato in Spanish. Although they aren’t technically a tomato they have similar characteristics and are actually distantly related to the gooseberry. Tomatillos are used in Latin dishes to create all different kinds of sauces and salsas; so chances are if you’ve had a verde or geen sauce at a Mexican or Latin restaurant you’ve had a tomatillo.

Be sure so rinse each one thoroughly before using, they have a sticky substance in between the husk and the skin that needs to washed off.

*Side note: To the left are the tomatillos to the right is the one small green tomato that I had on hand.

You know the drill. Flour (seasoned), then egg, lastly panko (seasoned).

I decided to go a little healthy here and bake instead of fry. You will still have a super crispy exterior and juicy interior and you’ll feel so much better about drowning them in copious amounts of hollandaise.

“Fried” Green Tomatillas with Lump Crab and Hollandaise
Serves 4-6

5-6 tomatillos, husks removed and rinsed
½ cup flour (seasoned with salt and pepper)
2 eggs + 1 tablespoon of water whisked together
1 cup panko (seasoned with salt and pepper)
6 ounces lump crab meat
Hollandaise (recipe here)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Sliced tomatillos in ½ inch pieces should yield about three slices per tomatillo. Coat in flour, patting off excess. Coat in egg mixture, then panko. Place on cookie rack on top of a sheet pan to ensure all sides get crispy. Bake for about 25 minutes or until brown and crispy. Top each tomatillo with a little bit of crab and drizzle with hollandaise.

*You can also pan fry in a little bit of canola oil.

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