Monday, May 27, 2013

Grilled Tomatillo Mango Salsa - A Food Photography Challenge

Usually I'm pretty darn good at following rules.  A traffic light turns yellow?  I almost always stop.  No glass outside by the pool?  Nope, we never do that.  Cross the street at the corner?  Yep, I follow that one too.

However, for this month's Inspired Plate Food Photography and Styling Challenge though, I think I have to give myself a fail.  Our challenge this month of "Herbs, with a clean/messy added element" had me actually failing twice.

Looking at my schedule lately, I think I can explain it all away with "I've got too much on my mind", or maybe it's simply a lack of attention to detail.  Or perhaps this little image sums it up:

In any case, I finished my first (notice I said first...) shoot nearly two weeks early.  So proud I actually completed a project ahead of time and that the photos turned out worthy of a photography challenge, I loved my empty bowl with just the last bits of Coconut Avocado Frozen Yogurt swirled at the bottom to complete the "messy" portion of the shoot.  The spoon was set just so, perfectly balancing off of the ingredients that I had scattered around the shot.

Checking the due date of this project I happened to notice the word "Herbs" right at the top. With not an herb to be found in my frozen yogurt, I scooped myself a bowl and returned to my recipe file to find something filled with herbs.

Last weekends dinner with Mom and Dad proved the perfect opportunity to fire up the grill, and our Grilled Tomatillo Mango Salsa paired with the grilled Mahi-Mahi beautifully.  Cleaning up the kitchen before Mom and Dad got here I was happy that all the dishes were done, the fish ready to grill, the salad prepped and the dessert in the freezer (that was the Fabulous Frozen Margarita Lime Pie we posted earlier this week).

Setting down at the computer with the extra time I had before they arrived I glanced at our challenge prompt and once again my heart sunk once again with failure.  Messy element... well now that the kitchen was all clean and ready for guests the messy wasn't going to happy.  As such I'm settling for this sort of messyish shot of the before of the tomatillos.

Arriving in a papery husk, I've found many of my friends somewhat intimidated by the green fruit.  Tomatillo Salsas, with their slightly sweet flavor, are many times not as hot as other salsas.  (Take care to take a small test bite first though, as you just never know.).  As the tomatillos arrive somewhat firm, I like to grill mine, giving them a richer flavor and a preferable (for me) texture.

A ripe mango on the counter proved to be the perfect complement to the grilled tomatillos, onions and small piece of serrano chili, while also bringing a nice color element to the bowl.  Served alone with tortilla chips or as a topping for a piece of grilled fish, you most likely won't have this salsa around long.  All the better to return to the kitchen for that lost messy shot...

Please join me as we make our way around the Inspired Plate blog circle.  First up, we head to Australia to visit Sabrina Wong a Perth Food Photographer with her photography challenge shots.

Grilled Tomatillo Mango Salsa
Slightly sweet and flavorful, we love this salsa simply with tortilla chips or as a nice topping to a piece of grilled fish or chicken.  This is one of those recipes where I use the recipe more as a guide.  Depending on the size of the tomatillos I add a few extra, or a few less.  My husband is a big cilantro fan, so when I make it for him I add extra, for others, a little less.  Same for the lime.  Feel free to adjust to your tastes.
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6 - 8 medium tomatillos, husked and scrubbed 
1/2 serrano chili (I grill mine whole, then cut in half for the recipe) 
2 slices onion 
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, stems removed 
2-4 Tbs lime juice, start with two Tbs and add more as desired 
1 mango, finely diced 
salt to taste 

Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Rub the tomatillos, chili and onion slices carefully with oil.  Add the tomatillos, serrano and onion directly to the grill grates (or alternatively use a vegetable rack if you have one) and grill until the tomatillos are soft and the peppers and onions are tender and slightly charred.  Remove from grill and cool.

When cool, chop the onion and cut the serrano into your desired size (My last one was habañero hot!  I only used 1/3 of it and it was a touch of heat in our salsa).  Add the tomatillos, diced onion and chopped cilantro into a blender or food processor and process for a few seconds until you have your desired consistency (I prefer mine a bit chunky).  Pour into a bowl and add the lime juice and the small dice mango.  Salt to taste and taste.  Adjust seasoning as desired (I temd to add more lime...).  Chill, and enjoy.


  1. I love this shot Kim. Even though it doesn't have a 'messy' element for your challenge, it's beautiful. It makes me just want the salsa!

  2. Wow what a beautiful salsa, definitely want to give this a try!

    Happy Blogging!
    Happy Valley Chow

  3. Kim this salsa sounds so refreshing, perfect for the Summer. I'm pinning this for later.

  4. Wow, I've never seen tomatillos before! Your photos look great, always so clean & crisp :) With such a small group this month, I wonder if that additional technical element is too much for some people or whether it's just bad timing for everyone :/

  5. Attention to detail is not always my strong suit when I am overwhelmed with other things. Still, I think these shots are great! And I can't wait to see the frozen yogurt ones.

  6. Love the eecard and this salsa sounds delicious.

  7. First off, lovely pics! Second off, this looks awesome! I love salsa. Patrick and I go through jars and jars of it!

  8. Kim,
    I love your pics. Your salsa looks amazing. I never thought to grill tomatillos. I love mango in anything, especially salsa. Will have to try this one.

  9. I hate to miss small details like that Kim but I do it all the time! Your salsa looks delish, that mango adds such a pretty touch and your photos are beautiful!

  10. Kin I love your story telling, and I think this turned out great. I am definitely going to try this recipe! Clean/Messy...either way this completely works for me!

  11. I think your photos are splendid and the recipe sounds so good. :-) Mexican food is very difficult to come by here in Queensland, so I'm making everything from scratch. I love this recipe. :-)

  12. Whatever all those silly rules are, your photographs are gorgeous!!


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