August 8, 2007

Chunky guacamole


When I was younger, I only really knew avocados as a sweet treat, served with milk and sugar in a bowl or blended into thick green shakes. It was only later that I began to discover this fruit for it's more savory potential, where it lends creaminess to dishes such as sushi, salsas, salads, sandwiches and of course dips like guacamole.

In Aztec Mexico, the avocado fruit was highly-regarded because of it's high-fat content and essential to their mainly low-fat diet. But alas, this was not good news for the Twiggys and Kates of the world and their frail disciples. The avocado lost some of its glory and I will be the first to admit that I too tried to stay away for a time. It didn't take long for me to realize though that this was actually good fat, the mono and polyunsaturated kind, and that packed into this fruit are over twenty vitamins and minerals that contribute significantly to overall good health. So there, trump that! :)

So I opened my arms wide, welcoming the avocados back into my life and embracing all it's good qualities and culinary potential. I no longer picked the pieces out from that bed of salad greens and I began slurping those delicious shakes again. Oh and making home-made guacamole too.

Below is the recipe which was based on Rosa's New Mexican Table by Roberto SantibaƱez and which is the same recipe used at the Rosa Mexicano restaurants in NY where they prepare the guacamole by your table in a molcajete, a traditional Mexican mortar made with volcanic rock. I did use a mortar to make the paste and then tossed everything together in a separate bowl before transferring it into smaller bowls like the one pictured above, incidentally a favorite of mine that I picked up during a trip to Mexico last year.

Although the addition of lime or lemon is not found in most authentic Mexican recipes, I like to squeeze some of the citrus onto the guacamole to add a bit of tang. South of the (American) border, guacamole is traditionally served inside a fresh tortilla but I prefer having it as a dip with salty tortilla chips or crudites.

The result is a fiesta in a bowl! It's rich, lusciously creamy, give-me-lumps-or-give-me-death! chunky, colorful and sshh, are those mariachis I hear?

Chunky guacamole
(adapted from Saveur, Aug-Sept 2007)

3/4 medium white onion, finely chopped
2 whole tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped (if you have Serrano chiles, better)
2 medium-ripe Hass avocados
fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
salt to taste

The most imporant step in making good guacamole is to grind the onion, cilantro, chile and salt in a mortar until you've achieved a nice paste. You have to really get down and grind like your life depended on it. This will allow the paste to enhance the flavor of the avocados without overpowering it.

Next, cut the avocados lengthwise and twist to separate the halves. Remove the pit with a knife and make 3 or 4 lengthwise cuts through it's flesh down to the skin. Then do the same crosswise, like you would cube a mango. Scoop all the diced avocado flesh out and into a bowl.

Scrape the chile-onion paste from the mortar onto the avocados and gently fold the avocados into it, careful to keep the avocados intact. Add the tomatoes and more chopped cilantro. Squeeze the lime onto the guacamole and season with salt. Fold together all the ingredients and serve immediately.

Bonus trivia: Guacamole dates back to the Aztec period where it was first known as ahuaca-mulli, loosely translated as Avocado mixture. Learn more about the origin and kinds of avocado here.


ginny said...

Am no twiggy nor kate but really have this distorted imagination that my waistline expands the minute I swallow avocado. Blame it on everyone telling me that it is very fattening every time i would eat it. It is very tasty and healthy. So I will try my best to welcome it back into my life.

I remember when bita used to make us eat this mashed with milk and sugar. No wonder I felt my waistline get bigger.

M.Tan said...

And for additional avocado health notes, if you have creaky knees, try eating avocados regularly. Those oils will help alleviate joint problems.

Guac is my favorite of all avocado treats. But your note about the avocado shake in CDO makes me want to fly out there!

rowena said...

Since I am such a food monkey, avocados are always on my shopping list. The problem is that the ones I get here are hit or miss when it comes to taste! How I wish that I could just have my own tree in the backyard. Now try trumping THAT! ;-)

katrina said...

Really? I didn't know about avocados being good for the joints! I have weak knees, so that's a great excuse to eat them, then. :-)

I didn't like avocados till I was almost an adult, and I still prefer it sweet and un-chunky (shakes, ice cream). I'm beginning to like guacamole, though -- especially if it's got lots of cilantro, the tang of lime, and some chili in there, too.'ve made me crave it now!

christine said...

Gins, of course we have the same memories and that's exactly who I was thinking about when I wrote that! Abuelita and mashed avocados with milk and sugar. :)

Mila, that's great to know! I put a lot of strain on my knees and they have began to complain so I try to shut them up with some cod liver oil caps. Oh yes that avocado shake, in the airport cafe of CDO no less, yum! BTW, Mila, this is very similar to your super guacamole that I loved! :)

Ok Rowena, you win, that is untrumpable! :) Your own fruit trees in the backyard, sigh what a nice dream.

Katrina, I think you'll like this then. Like you, I developed my taste for savory avocado dishes late but better late than never! :)

Lydia said...

I like my guac very chunky, too. I'm a purist: avocado, tomato, onion, salt, lime. That's it! I have a lava rock molcajete that I brought home from Mexico years ago, and it really does make the best guac.

Valli said...

The avocado is so versdatile. I love its creamy texture on burgers, in salads and especially in guacamole. Can you believe with all the years of cooking fabulous meals I have never attempted guac?? I will have to give it a try...thanks for the recipe!!!!

Belinda said...

Your posts are really inspiring me, Christine! First the couscous, and now avacados...I'm amending my grocery shopping list yet again. :-) You certainly can't argue with its nutritional qualities, and a little "good" fat is not a bad thing. Bring on the homemade chunky guacamole, I say!

christine said...

Ooh Lydia you have a molcajete, nice! I think the best guacs are those that are made with just the basic ingredients too. :)

Hi Valli! You're welcome. There's always a first time for everything. Hope you enjoy it. :)

I'm happy to inspire, Belinda! :)

joey said...

This is definitely getting bookmarked! It looks and sounds fantastic and you know I am married to a Mexican so the more Mexican food I can make the better :)

I also had avacados mushed up with milk and sugar as a kid and I already loved it then...I guess at a very young age I was already gravitating towards food with lots of fat...good and bad!

Marvin said...

I was the exact opposite of you growing up--I loved all the savory applications of avocado and always thought it was so strange when my mother would have them with milk and sugar. I am only now beginning to appreciate the sweeter aspects of avocado.

christine said...

Jo, if C likes guacamole, I'm pretty sure he'd love this so try it! :)

Marvin, that's interesting. I thought most kids grew up liking the sweet versions of most things like avocados first. Or maybe it's more of a Filipino thing, where everything gets sweetened up! :)