A wonderful concoction of avocado and other tasty ingredients, guacamole (pronounced 'gwakka-MOLE-ee') is a Mexican1 foodstuff that can be put on tacos, burritos or rice, served as a dip with corn chips, or even spread between two pieces of bread in a sandwich. Although guacamole doesn't really look like much - a soft, lumpy, green-tinged porridge of sorts – it's deceptively tasty2.
Homemade guacamole tastes even better than the stuff you can buy pre-made in stores, or the woefully inadequate version passed off as fine dining at Tex-Mex restaurants, as that's the way gran bisabuela made it! So, if you've never had guacamole before, or just want a recipe for it, read on.
- 1 avocado, ripe
- 1 onion, small, finely chopped
- 1 - 2 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 1 small, mild chilli
- 1 tomato, small, chopped into 1cm (½ inch) bits (although this is optional)
- a splash of lime juice
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves (to taste)
- ¼ tsp salt (to taste)
Choosing the Best Avocado for the Job
The secret to making perfect guacamole is choosing your avocado - the main ingredient. They look a little bit like pears coated in a rough reptile-like skin. A properly ripened avocado should dent just a little bit when you squeeze it. If it's hard, it won't have its full flavour (which some describe as nutty and buttery), and it won't mix very well either. Once you've chosen a suitable fruit, you'll need to get the gorgeous flesh out from under its skin.
The easiest way to 'peel' an avocado is to cut it in half the tall way (make a ring with a sharp knife around the big pit in the middle), then twist the two halves away from each other. In one of the halves you'll find the pit, a large thing in the middle of the fruit that looks like a smooth, wooden golf ball. You can remove this by banging the knife blade against it and twisting the pit round in the flesh of the fruit. Now, gently push the knife through the flesh to the skin, and make neat vertical slices about 5mm (¼ inch) apart through all the flesh - but don't cut the peel! Then simply spoon out the green deliciousness into a bowl, ready for making your guacamole.
Mix everything together thoroughly! Well, it isn't quite as simple as that. Puree all your ingredients in a nice clean bowl. You can use a motorised blender if you like, but a strong forearm and a fork should do the job of blending everything quite well, so long as the avocado is nice and ripe. The mix should have a few large chunks of avocado left in it to give variations in strength of flavour from bite to bite. Once you're happy with the smoothness of your guacamole, it's time to taste the mixture. If it's somewhat pasty or powdery, try adding a pinch of salt or some more lime juice, and mix again well. Repeat until you can taste the avocado.
Once you feel happy with the taste, and texture, of your guacamole, the next stage is to let the mixture sit out in the open for about an hour. Cover it with plastic wrap, and be sure to keep the avocado pit in the mixture, as this apparently not only helps keep the guacamole green but also fresher. If that sounds a bit like an old wives' tale, just add more lime (or lemon) juice to keep the guacamole from turning a horrible shade of brown.
After the guacamole has sat for about the hour, give or take 58 minutes, it should be ready to eat; dip in a corn chip, or slop it on your taco! Multiply the amounts in the recipe by about three to make enough guacamole to serve up to more than one person. Frankly, you might want to make loads anyway - especially once you've worked up a taste for the stuff! If there's any left you can store in the refrigerator for a few days in a sealed plastic container. Although it may get a brown crust over time, add some more lime or lemon juice, mix again, and you're good to go.
Tips for Making Not Good Guacamole, But Great Guacamole
If you've never made guacamole before, buy extra avocadoes - you’ll mostly likely screw things up the first time you try the recipe.
The flavour of avocado can be very subtle, especially with store-bought avocadoes, so try different types. Hass Avocadoes tend to have more flavour, but good Green Avocadoes make excellent guacamole too.
'Roma' tomatoes are nigh-on perfect for guacamole; firm and tasty but not so juicy as to make it all watery.
Avoid refrigerating tomatoes and avocadoes before making your guacamole, as this can alter the final flavour.
- Slicing the avocado flesh before spooning it from the skin helps to keep the skin from tearing and sticking to the soft green pulp.
Good guacamole should have a big bang of flavours, and finish 'clean' on the palate. But it's hard to say if there’s such a thing as bad guacamole...
Variations on the Same Theme
There are many different varieties of guacamole. In fact, the recipe can differ from family to family - especially in Mexico. Some people are known to put a dollop of sour cream or cottage cheese into the mixture to make it more creamy, and some add more tomato, onion and peppers (along with other fruits, as desired) to create an avocado-based salsa. Other, less brave, cooks will add a splash of lemon juice instead of lime. But the important thing to remember is to experiment and find the mix of flavours that works best for you.
One Final Note
It might be interesting for you to know that the word 'avocado' derives from a Central American word for 'testicle', in that the fruit was thought to be shaped not unlike that part of the male genitalia. So guacamole is in fact 'testicle sauce'. It doesn't bear thinking about really; just eat and enjoy!