I used to have a very complicated method for making guacamole. There would be toasting of crushed cumin seeds, pestle & mortar blending of spices, gentle frying of chilli powder, garlic mincing, coriander chopping and general dicing, tasting, resting, salting and finally…after about an hour had passed, possibly some eating.
And then I got to México.
One night, under the careful instruction of a Méxican lady, I was shown this quick and easy guacamole recipe. Four base ingredients and just lime and salt to taste. In under 5 minutes I was chomping on the best guacamole of my life. And it felt only fair to share this revelation with you.
So, here we have…
1 white onion
1 green chilli
1 small lime (called limon in México)
a pinch of salt
Note: the quantities below provide a small bowl of guacamole that’s perfect as a filling snack for one person.
Step One: Chop
Dice around 1/5 of the onion, 1/3 of the tomato and as much chilli as you can handle. I like to chop my guacamole ingredients into large chunks for better texture, so I don’t tend to take much care with my dicing skills (life’s too short for uniformly cut vegetables, right?).
A word on chillis
The green flesh of the chilli shown in this picture isn’t especially hot, but the chilli seeds really pack some heat. For more chilli flavour than heat, discard the seed. I used the seeds, but I’ve got a high heat tolerance.
Most important of all – make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after chopping chilli so you don’t end up sticking a chilli soaked finger in your eye (something my tiny brain compels me to do every time)!
Step Two: Avocado
Half the avocado and put the contents into a bowl. Mash the avocado with a sharp knife or the back of a fork until you have a chunky but blended consistency.
A word on avocados
Choosing a perfectly ripe avocado can be difficult if you’re not in a country where they are abundant. Look for a dark green/brown colour that should feel pretty soft to touch.
If there is a lot of resistance or sponginess, your avocado is not ripe and as tempting as it is to use it anyway (my impatience with avocados has gotten the better of me more than once), you’ll come to regret it because the avocado will not have the right consistency or, vitally, the flavour to pull off a good guacamole.
If your avocado isn’t ripe, then wait a few days – you’ll thank me for it, I promise. If you want to speed up the ripening process, there are some theories that you can store your avocado outside of the fridge in a paper bag with either ripe bananas or apples. I have to say, I’ve tried this and I wasn’t convinced the avocado got any more ripe that it would have naturally (but if you use this method regularly and found it does work, let me know what I’m doing wrong).
Avocado is one of those fruits where the flesh turns brown when exposed to air. It’s still safe to eat, it just doesn’t look so pretty, which is why it’s best to prepare avocado and eat it pretty quickly soon after.
Preparing your avocado
When it comes to cutting the avocado, slice it length ways around the whole avocado (not around its middle) and twist the two sides apart.
If you’re only using half of the avocado, reserve the half with the seed in the middle – leaving the seed in place will keep the remaining part fresher.
I used to peel avocados. I later came to realise that if your avocado is firm enough to peel without turning into mush, it’s probably not ripe enough yet!
If you’re avocado is sufficiently ripe, getting it out of the skin should be very easy. Simply slice the avocado in a criss-cross pattern, work the knife around the edge of the skin and squeeze the squares out.
Step Three: Combine
Add the chopped tomato, onion and chilli to the avocado and combine.
Step Four: Salt & Lime
Add the juice of half a small lime (see note below). Add a pinch of salt to taste and stir into the guacamole.
A word on limes
The limes (limon) available in México are smaller and less tart than the same fruit that I’m used to in Europe. If you’e able to buy the smaller, lighter green fruit that is commonly used for cocktails like mojitos and caipirinhas (my recipe from Brazil is here), then do. Otherwise, if you’re using a larger, darker green lime, I’d recommend using the juice of only 1/4 of the lime.
If you’re unsure how much to add, take my nan’s tip and add just a little at a time remembering that you can always add more, but your can’t take less out!
If your lime is exceptionally tart, add a pinch of sugar to balance the acidic taste.
To prepare your lime, roll it (whole) on the chopping board to loosen up the juice inside before you slice it. Not only will you get more juice out of your lime, it will be easier to squeeze by hand.
It’s worth understanding that the lime has two jobs in guacamole – adding to the flavour and consistency, but also acting as a preservative for the guacamole, stopping it turning yacky brown before you even have time to deliver your finished dish to the table.
Step Five: Enjoy!
Your guacamole recipe is complete – enjoy!
Corn tortilla chips are the best accompaniment if you’re snacking on guacamole. In México they are called totopos and are made by frying triangles of soft corn tortillas. In Europe (and elsewhere), there are many brands of tortilla chips to choose from. My advice is to buy a plain pack that has the least amount of additional flavour. That way you get to really taste your amazing creation.
Guacamole fun facts
Guacamole is believed to have been created by the Aztecs in México around the 16th century.
The original dish included only mashed avocado and sea salt.
The Superbowl and Cinco de Mayo regularly compete as the dates when the most avocados are consumed in the USA.
México is the biggest producer of avocados followed by California.
Avocados are called aguacate in Spanish and are also known as alligator pears thanks to the their scaly skin and pear shape.
Containing more potassium than bananas, avocados are officially good for hangovers!
I once went to stay on an avocado farm in Guatemala only to find that there were no avocados because I had visited in the wrong season #fail.
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