Special Guacamole Tips to Set Yours Apart from the Rest
Pass the Chips!
What You Need
4 medium or 3 large ripe avocados
2-3 medium limes
1/2 a sweet yellow onion, diced
3 serrano peppers
3/4 cup tomato
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced (optional)
1/2 tsp salt (optional)
What You Do - and Why
It's a common love affair - turning buttery avocados into something you can dip, smear, and savor. Cinco de Mayo ushers in the first wave of fresh veggies at the market. What is the authentic way to turn these green orbs of the Gods into guacamole? Living in Texas has taught me a few secrets.
Your avocados have to be ripe. There is really no way around it. Ripe avocados have darker skin and just give to the pressure of a finger. If you can't find ripe avocados at the store, no worries. Bring home green ones and leave them out in the sun for a day. The next day you should be good to go.
Soak your onions in lime juice. No, really. Lime will cut the acidity of the onion, which is good news for those with acid reflux. Even I, a food scientist, cannot explain how lime juice reduces the stomach irritation of raw onion. But I trust my guacamole expert friends. Lime juice also contains ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which will help keep your guacamole green.
Allow yourself two hours for the onions to soak. Mash and roll two medium limes with your hands. This releases the juices in the pulp. You should feel the limes give way under the pressure of your hand. Cut them in half, then squeeze the juice through your fingers into a small bowl. Your hands help you catch any seeds. Dice the onion into medium pieces and add them to the lime juice. Put the onions in the fridge and go have a cerveza or two.
When you are ready to assemble, start chopping your other veggies. I recommend using a large bowl and a smaller "garbage" bowl. Garbage can be used as compost or just prevent you from walking to the trash can every 30 seconds. Keep your onions in the fridge until you are finished with chopping the other ingredients.
Fresh Roma tomatoes from the garden work great in guacamole. You really cannot duplicate the flavor of farmer's market or home garden tomatoes. But if you have to buy them at the grocery...go small. Pick cherry or grape tomatoes. The flavor will be more intense. I choose to use about 3/4 cup tomato. Every ingredient in this recipe is to taste however. Everyone likes different things. Play with the knowledge I give you until you have your perfect recipe.
Peppers - peppers range in all sorts of varieties from spicy to sweet. My mentor on this recipe likes serrano because they aren't too hot but offer a lot of flavor. If you want something more mild, use jalapeno and work with the amount of seed and rib you leave intact. You can control the heat of your pepper by how much of the seeds and ribs you retain. If I use serrano I throw the whole pepper in. They are thin and more difficult to separate - best to regulate the heat on these by using less or more whole pepper. Your peppers will have visual appeal if you slice them across into rings.
Cilantro - this herb is to taste. If you love it, use a lot. If you hate it, don't use it at all. It is a polarizing herb. Most people either love it or hate it. If you love it, I noted for this recipe to use 1/2 a bunch. This is 1/2 the normal sized bunch you buy at the grocery store. To prep it, you rinse it, then pull the leaves off the stalks. I have found that if it looks like you are using way too much cilantro, it's probably just right. After you pull the leaves off the stalks give it a course chop and add it to the rest of the ingredients.
Fresh garlic and salt are completely optional in this recipe. My Hispanic friends don't use either. Sometimes I get a craving for a little garlic. Most chips have enough salt to complement the fresh guacamole. Your call. If you want to use garlic chop it fine and add salt to taste.
It's time to introduce your hibernating onions. You can either strain some of the juice off or use it all. If you add all of the juice, your guacamole may have a tart bite. Add your onions to your other fresh chopped veggies.
Let's talk avocado. How do you remove the contents from these green egg-like creatures? My favorite way is to cut them in half long-ways, easing your knife around the large seed in the middle and leaving it intact. Once open, there are a few ways to remove the seed. Since it's guacamole and the avocado is getting mashed anyway, I dig it out with my fingers. If you have good aim and aren't afraid of losing digits, you can whack the blade of your knife into it. It will get caught on the knife and you can pull it out. Keep one of those seeds.
Removing the fruit from the skin is a cinch. Once you have your avocado halved, take a small knife and make a tic-tac-toe board in the flesh of the avocado. Using your fingers, turn the skin of the avocado inside out and rub the pieces of avocado away from the skin into your bowl. If there is too much resistance make more lines and a bigger grid of knife scores.
Ready for the fun part? Squish. Take your (clean) hands, reach into the bowl, and squish all of your ingredients together. Some folks use a fork, but I find that fingers are a much more effective utensil. If you like your guacamole smooth, squish a lot. If you like it chunky, don't squish so much.
Remember that avocado seed you kept? Throw it back into your mix. Don't ask me why or how, but it's like some ancient mexicano secret that the seed keeps the guacamole from browning as fast. I don't question it; I just do it. Between the lime juice and the seed, I have kept guacamole for 24 hours with no degradation in quality.
Once your guacamole is mixed, transfer it to a serving bowl. Cover it in plastic wrap, pushing the plastic down next to the dip. Oxygen is what makes avocados turn brown, so we want to keep that air away. I recommend refrigerating it for at least an hour so the flavors have time to blend and your mixture chills. If you can't wait that long, dig in. As I mentioned before, if you follow these steps you can make your guacamole stay fresh and green for up to even a day.
Last tip - if your guacamole just doesn't seem to satisfy or seems to only grasp your sour/salty senses, add 1/2-1 teaspoon of sugar. Cut the acid and spice. Round it out. Make it craveable to all senses.
Guacamole brings the party to a variety of dishes or can stand alone. Making it doesn't have to be daunting nor mysterious. I hope these simple tips will help you create your own avocado goodness.
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© 2012 Melissa Althen
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