As tomato season ramps up, you may encounter recipes that call for peeled tomatoes. Though this step is always optional (your relationship with tomato skin is your own business), removing the skin and the seeds will create a smooth, refined texture in soups and sauces.
Peeling a tomato like a carrot is next to impossible, so here is the tried and true method for peeling tomatoes—known in the culinary universe as preparing tomato concassé.
Tomato concassé—tomatoes that have been peeled, seeded, and chopped—is a basic preparation that is used in many different dishes. To prepare tomato concassé, score an X into the bottom of each tomato, but be sure not to cut too deeply. Remove the stem core.
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Prepare a bowl of ice water to shock the tomatoes after cooking. Drop the tomatoes into the boiling water and cook for 10 to 15 seconds, depending on their ripeness. You know the tomato is ready to remove when the skin starts shrinking away from the tomato and the edges begin to curl. Remove them with a slotted spoon or spider and shock them in the ice water.
Once they are cool, use a paring knife to peel away the tomatoes’ skin. If a tomato was cooked properly, none of the flesh will pull away with the skin.
The true definition of a concassé calls for the peeled tomato to be roughly chopped, but the tomatoes can be cut to suit any use. To roughly chop, first halve the tomato crosswise at its widest point, and gently squeeze out the seeds. (Cut plum tomatoes lengthwise to seed them more easily.) The seeds and juices of the tomato may be preserved for other preparations.
For more precise cuts, quarter the peeled tomatoes instead of halving them, and cut away the seeds and any membranes using a paring knife.
Cut the flesh into julienne, dice, or other desired shapes.
BREAKING NEWS: use this same method for peaches, too! The skin will cling to underripe peaches, but a ripe peach will peel with virtually no effort after a quick drop in boiling water.