This Easy Guacamole Delivers Exactly the Flavors You Crave
I grew up in Los Angeles and have a slight touch of Mexican heritage in my family. Growing up, and a neighbor from Guadalajara named Lupe taught me about Mexican cooking. It was her guacamole method that my mom picked up and passed to me through culinary osmosis.
As with most dishes that are passed through generations, this one, I believed for years, was the best. Friends and family have supported me in my belief. Then, a few years ago, a neighbor brought her “best” guacamole to a gathering, and like two girls wearing the same prom dress, it got really awkward. Hers might have been better.
That’s when I started thinking a little more openly about guacamole.
What Makes Guacamole Taste Good?
The most important element for guacamole is ripe avocados. They should give easily when squeezed (gently!). Underripe avocados make for bland, chewy guacamole. On the other hand, you shouldn’t feel any air pockets beneath the skin; this usually indicates the avocados are overripe.
One of the biggest sticking points in the guacamole debate is about citrus. I’ve heard from people who believe citrus distracts from the flavor of the avocado, but Pati says, “For me, there is no guacamole without citrus, especially lime. Limes and avocados go hand in hand. Not only do their flavors marry so beautifully — the lime enhancing the buttery, rich nature of the avocado — but also, the lime helps keep the avocado pulp stay green and fresh.”
As for the heat factor, Pati uses serrano and jalapeño, which I also like. “I’d rather add less chile with seeds than more chile without seeds. Seeds have the heat but they are also packed with flavor, plus I love the way they crunch.”
If you don’t like the heat, feel free to leave out the chiles.
Make It Your Own
Homemade guacamole is like a snowflake; you never see the same one twice. Even if it weren’t for the fact that the flavor and texture of avocados varies widely, this isn’t usually a recipe people make with measuring spoons and cups. I certainly don’t. So I want to encourage you to make it by feel, to taste as you move along, and to find your own perfect guacamole formula.
Toy with the formula until you get the right combination of ingredients. For me, tomato is not ideal; I use it mostly in cases where I want to stretch the quantity (otherwise it can get watery).
When you begin, use conservative amounts of lime, onion, salt, chiles, and cilantro. Taste as you go and layer in more flavor as needed. I like my guacamole to have lots of lime and cilantro, so I know that going in.
Serves6 to 8
- 1/4 cup
finely chopped red onion
jalapeño pepper, minced (more or less, to taste)
- 1/4 cup
chopped cilantro leaves and upper stems
Pinch or two of coarse salt
- 3 medium
Juice of one lime
Add the onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and salt into a molcajete, mortar and pestle, or mixing bowl. Using the pestle or molcajete stone, crush the ingredients together into a paste.
Cut the avocados in half and remove the pit. Spoon the flesh of the avocados into the molcajete and mash it, mixing with the onion and chile paste. Add the lime juice and stir gently, so as not to crush the ingredients too aggressively. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
To some people, cilantro tastes soapy. If you don't like the taste, simply leave it out.
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