The ripening of chillies and tomatillos, along with fresh sweetcorn, has brought on a recent spate of Mexican inspired dishes: guacamole – literally avocado sauce; a mole made from roasted chillies, tomatillos, and red onions; a salad or salsa where sweetcorn is the star ingredient; and sweetcorn fritters. Recipes will follow for each of these, but in this post I cover homemade guacamole. I do not, I must confess, have that much knowledge of Mexican cuisine, but I am fairly confident that this guacamole is a fair representation – certainly more so than the dull and insipid substitutes found in some shops.
The first challenge is acquiring perfectly ripe avocados – this usually needs a little forethought as they are often quite unripe and need some days at home before they are fit for purpose. Even the so called ‘ripe and ready to eat’ offerings are often not really ripe enough for a good guacamole. The avocados should be quite soft – not brown and nasty, but not at all hard. There is a fine line between perfectly ripe and overripe, so keep a close eye on them. Ripe avocados can be readily processed with a fork, although guacamole might be prepared in a traditional way with the use of a pestle and mortar. There is not, though, any need to use a food processor or blender – that completely destroys the texture and does not really speed things up much, either, when taking into account the cleaning up time.
The flesh of avocados discolours quickly once exposed to the atmosphere. Lime juice, though, which gives the guacamole a fresh, vibrant, flavour, will prevent this discolouration, so one should work quickly to remove the flesh, roughly mash, and sprinkle with the lime juice. The other ingredients can then be added at a more leisurely pace. Recipes vary a little, but the usual additions are some finely chopped chilli, shallot or onion, fresh coriander leaf, and tomato. The latter is best deseeded so that the texture is not adversely affected by the tomato juice and pips.
A homemade guacamole is quite different from a ready prepared version, with much improved flavour and texture, and is so simple to make. The coriander leaf and chilli, and a good squeeze of lime juice, give it a delicious, lively, fresh flavour. It is best enjoyed soon after it is made – but in any event should not be prepared more than a couple of hours ahead of time. The exact quantities of ingredients are not critical, and should be adapted according to individual preference.