Think you know guacamole? Unless you’ve had the real deal, made by hand in a Mexican kitchen–or at least in an authentic Mexican restaurant–you’re missing out on how sublime this avocado concoction can be.
And “concoction” is exactly the right word for real guacamole. Mole in Nahuatl–the language of the ancient Aztecs–means just that. Guaca comes from the Nahuatl word for avocado. The Aztecs loved this creamy, delicious and very healthy fruit.
OK, so how do you make real “guac” the right way, so it comes out tasting like it just left Tia Guadalupe’s Mexican cocina? Here’s what I learned in a Mexican cooking school.
First, put the blender away, far away. In fact, forget you own one. Real guacamole bears almost no relationship to the pureed gooey mash–sometimes abominated even further with sour cream–that shows up far too often on American tables under the name guacamole. The real thing should be chunky with a burst of rich avocado flavor and just a hint of bite.
To be really authentic, guacamole should be concocted in a molcajete, the pre-Hispanic mortar and pestle made of volcanic rock that you still see for sale in every Mexican street market. It allows you to grind the flavoring ingredients together into a paste before adding the avocado, dispersing the flavors uniformly. Since most modern American kitchens don’t have a molcajete, you can use a bowl and the back of a heavy spoon instead.
For the best flavor, use very ripe Hass avocados. Not only do they taste better, they also tend to discolor more slowly.
Real Mexican Guacamole
Makes 3 cups (about 4-5 servings)
3 ripe Hass avocados
½ medium white onion, chopped fine
1 clove garlic (if you like it), chopped fine
1 fresh Serrano chile, seeded, deveined and minced fine*
2 Tbls. fresh cilantro, chopped fine
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp. fresh lime juice (use small Mexican or key limes)
½ tsp. salt (more or less to taste)
Put the chopped onion, garlic, cilantro and serrano into a molcajete or bowl and mash together with a mortar or the back of a heavy spoon until the juices mix and they begin to form a paste. Cut the avocados in half and scoop the flesh out with a spoon into the bowl in big chunks. Mix well, mashing the avocado slightly but not until it’s a pasty puree. The mixture should still be chunky.
Gently mix in the finely diced tomatoes, lime juice and salt to taste. Stir to mix well.
Serve on chips or, better yet, on home-made totopes–the thick, hand-cut tortilla chips common all over Mexico. In Mexico, guacamole is also commonly served to pile onto steaks, tacos, fajitas, carnitas or spread on bread in place of mayonnaise in a sandwich.
Now close your eyes, take a bite, and enjoy the tangy, sublime, authentic taste of real Mexican guacamole.
*Tip: Start with one small serrano then test for hotness. If you like your guacamole fiery, add more. If fresh serrano chiles are not available in your area, you can substitute fresh jalapenos, but the flavor will be slightly different.
Tip 2: Never make guacamole in advance. Avocado discolors quickly on contact with air. You can mix up the first ingredients a few hours in advance if you like, but wait to add the avocado and later ingredients until just before serving.
I learned how to make real Mexican Guacamole at La Cocina Cooking School in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Owner Kris Rudolph really knows her way around a Mexican kitchen. To learn more about La Cocina, click on the link below and then on then “Cooking Classes” tab.