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MiguelCardoso

Guacamoles Is Plural, Right?

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Twice this week I've made guacamole according to this recipe - no lime juice and no tomatoes but truly delicious.

As I'm an ignoramus regarding Mexican cuisine (albeit an adoring and curious one), I have an almost ethical problem I'd love to know the solution to: unfortunately I tend to love most freshly-made guacamoles I try, whether genuinely Mexican or downright dubious. With or without garlic; with or without tomato; with or without lime juice; whether the avocado is fully ripe or half-ripe; Hass or another variety; with different kinds of peppers (even Portuguese dried "piri piri" powder or Tabasco, at a pinch, though only in an emergency); even with a tiny drop of olive oil...

As long as it's got good avocados, really fresh coriander (though some purists even shun this); firm, new onions (or, shockingly, shallots) and, until this latest recipe, tomatoes (whether ripe and summery or tangily autumnal) and, above all, the best "fleur du sel" or natural sea salt crystals, I'm happy. I draw the line at mayonnaise and hate all the industrial versions I've had the misfortune to taste - but that's about it.

Well, I'm tired of being such a slut. I would dearly love to know whether there is a basic "canvas" for guacamole (a Mexican friend of mine says it's just the avocado pulp, salt and a squirt of lime juice) and what the acceptable "palette" of addable ingredients is.

Is there a real Mexican guacamole? Is there a real Tex-Mex version? You know, like the original Genovese basil, pinenut, garlic and olive oil pesto, which continues to be made properly in the same way, despite all the pseudo-versions that have since used its name.

Any help would be much appreciated.

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in my experience, in areas of Mexico where Avocados (Aguacates) are available, guacamole is to mexico as pasta sauce is to italy-- everyone has their own idea of the best recipe, and there are regional variations based on product availability... and everyone else's recipes are wrong.

When the spaniards hit Mexico, they referred to guacamole as 'mantequilla de pobres" or in english, "poor (man's) butter" (or most literally, butter of the poor) since it was the favored creamy complement to meals amongst the peasants who coudn't afford butter. Guacamole first hit the USA under this moniker, i seem to remember a mention of 'mantequilla de pobres' in a James Beard book.

As to the most base form, Avocados, Finely diced (red) tomatos, white onion and lime juice. This is just my opinion.

Avocados provide a great vegetable base for elevating other flavors, just as the garbanzo bean in hummus has provided a base for 'experimental' versions. If it's avocado dip and still resembles avocados, i'd call it guacamole.

and you're not a slut, you're adventurous :)

(edit) ...oh and i am pretty sure guacamole is a mass noun in spanish, it is only pluralized when there exists more than one entity of guacamole.

e.g.

mucho guacamole (a lot of quacamole)

muchos diferentes guacamoles (many different types of guacamoles)


Edited by markovitch (log)

"The Internet is just a world passing around notes in a classroom."

---John Stewart

my blog

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Miguel, I second what Markovitch says. It's guacamole not guacamoles unless you are referring to several kinds of them. The term comes from Nahuatl (ahuaca, testicle and by extension the tree and the testicle-like fruit it bears and molli, to grind).

It's made dozens of different ways. It's very fashionable at the moment to add bits of citrus fruit. Not one of the greatest variations, to my mind.

The one point where I might differ from Markovitch is in the presence of red tomatoes (jitomates) as basic. My impression is that the use of red tomatoes has grown rapidly in Mexico in the last two or three decades ( a highly speculative claim I'd need to check). Of course they're a delicious addition.

I think tomates (tomatillos) cooked with green serrano chiles and ground would have been the basic in the past. I often make it here by simply adding the salsa verde (tomates, serranos, cilantro) that is always in the refrigerator.

And, incidentally, the primary use here is as a sauce and not as a dip for chips as in the US,

In any case, it's a great dish. Enjoy any which way,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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The one point where I might differ from Markovitch is in the presence of red tomatoes (jitomates) as basic. My impression is that the use of red tomatoes has grown rapidly in Mexico in the last two or three decades ( a highly speculative claim I'd need to check). Of course they're a delicious addition.

Just my personal taste, but I don't like red tomatoes in my guac; it just seems to add a watery note that I don't like in this dish (note: I do love tomatoes...).

I don't mind tomatillos for a variation...

Don't claim this relates to authentic; but I've evolved (after starting w/mayo, etc.)to the following:

ripe Haas avocados

serrano chiles

lime juice

cilantro

minced red onion

s&p

My usual *complaint* in guacs is if there is not enough chile and/or lime juice. Love their counterpoint to the creamy avocado..


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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The term comes from Nahuatl (ahuaca, testicle and by extension the tree and the testicle-like fruit it bears and molli, to grind).

ground testicles? :shock:


Tripe my guacamole baby.. just one more time.

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Thank you for asking such a well thought out question. Guacamole, in my mind, is one of the pure delights of being a cook. When you make it, you get the first and freshest taste!

I like red tomatoes in mine, though I leave them out in the winter. I also go a bit heavy on the lime as I love the acid balance with the avocados. (Sometimes, I will slosh a little tequila in there too.) My favorite addition of the moment is chipotle peppers and a bit of their adobo sauce. I like the smokey taste in the mix. Good stuff!


What's wrong with peanut butter and mustard? What else is a guy supposed to do when we are out of jelly?

-Dad

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A lot of the guacomole variations sound very interesting.

But it's funny (to me) that this is one of a few dishes that I just don't want to experiment further with (famous last words). Once I honed into the basic version I described above (over the course of several years), it tasted so good to me that I only want to make it that way when I have the chance.

I guess the *cure* to this would be to have such an abundance of avocados (off a tree in my yard) that I wouldn't 'mind' passing up on my basic recipe now and then...


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I don't mind tomatillos for a variation...

Don't claim this relates to authentic; but I've evolved (after starting w/mayo, etc.)to the following:

ripe Haas avocados

serrano chiles

lime juice

cilantro

minced red onion

s&p

My usual *complaint* in guacs is if there is not enough chile and/or lime juice. Love their counterpoint to the creamy avocado..

serrano chiles.... mmmmmmmm!

The flavor of serranos is definitely heightened when in guacamole.

Tomatillos are so underused. Could you please share your recipe with them?

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There is an awesome recipe for guacamole in one of the Rick Bayless books. I believe it calls for his Roasted Tomatillo Salsa - it is just wonderful and fresh tasting!

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I don't mind tomatillos for a variation...

Don't claim this relates to authentic; but I've evolved (after starting w/mayo, etc.)to the following:

ripe Haas avocados

serrano chiles

lime juice

cilantro

minced red onion

s&p

My usual *complaint* in guacs is if there is not enough chile and/or lime juice.  Love their counterpoint to the creamy avocado..

serrano chiles.... mmmmmmmm!

The flavor of serranos is definitely heightened when in guacamole.

Tomatillos are so underused. Could you please share your recipe with them?

I agree that serranos are really good here (i.e. better than jalapenos...)

The tomatillo guac that I've made is a variation off a recipe of Rick Bayless' in his book, Mexican Kitchen

Basically, make a roasted tomatillo-serano salsa, by blistering/roasting tomatillos under broiler or in hot skillet. Also roast some serranos and garlic. (for about 6 medium tomatillos you may use 2-4 serranos, to taste and 1-2 garlic cloves, to taste). Cool, peel all and blend together. Add this to 4 avocados, mashed. And add cilantro and chopped onion to taste.

Basically, it is very similar to the other basic recipe, but roasted tomatillos, rather than lime, donate the tangy, citrusy note. Also, the roasting add a nice toasty flavor.

Hmmm....don't have any ripe avocados at home right now! :sad:


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Some Tex-Mex places just serve the basic guacamole - mashed avocado with lime, then others, such as Cafe Adobe in Houston, make the most divine "de-luxe" version ( which is similiar to the way I make it at home):

lots of diced tomatoes

lots of diced onion

garlic

lemon or lime juice

salt

cayenne


If you can't act fit to eat like folks, you can just set here and eat in the kitchen - Calpurnia

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I actually DID live in Panama, where we had five avocado trees in our yard. An embarrassment of avocados, to be sure.

And another embarrassment is to admit that I have been making guacamole for some 40 years.

Often I do just make the basic: avocado, lime, salt.

But after years of trying, experimenting, stealing others' recipes, this is the one that I like the best, and the one which garners me the most compliments:

(NOTE: To whomever said that adding tomatoes makes it watery -- the trick is to remove the tomato water before you add it to the mashed avocados. I cut out the core, and then "shake hands" with the tomato to remove the water. Then I cut it in half and lay the cut tomato on a paper towel for a few minutes to drain even more moisture. My Guacamole is never watery.)

Guacamole (ingredients)

1 large avocado, just soft to the touch, not mushy

1 large, ripe, flavorful tomato, water removed, chopped

1 small yellow onion, chopped (or half a large one)

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

1 T salsa de jalapeno (see below), or to taste

juice of half a lime

Selecting the avocado: many people much prefer Hass. Obviously that depends entirely on where you live and what varieties are available to you. Just be sure you select a flavorful variety that you like. If they're hard when you buy them, close them up in a paper bag for a day or so.

Salsa de Jalapeño (ingredients)

6 whole pickled jalapeños (buy them in cans - Herdez sells them - among other brands - the label should say something like "Jalapeños en Escabeche" or similar)

1/2 c tomatoes (I usually just use canned for this)

1/4 tsp garlic salt

Methods:

Slice the avocado in half, lengthwise. Hold the half with the pit in one palm and with the other hand, whack a sharp knife into the pit. You should now be able to easily lift and twist out the pit. Give the knife with the pit stuck to it another whack on the side of the sink, and the pit will drop. No muss no fuss.

Now slice your avocado halves lengthwise once again. This will give you four long wedges. Starting with the narrow end, you will most likely be able to peel them just as though you were peeling a banana. Place the peeled quarters on a dinner plate and with a fork or potato masher, mash the pulp until it is "smoothly chunky." If you have a molcajete, obviously you're using that and you already know all about this and don't need any more directions from me.

For the rest of us, add the remainder of the ingredients onto your mashed avocados and stir to combine well.

Taste for seasonings: salt, "heat," lime, and adjust where needed.

Many people put cilantro in guacamole, but I don't. For me, cilantro has a very strong flavor and I think it overpowers the avocado. Also, I invariably serve my own homemade cooked, red "table salsa" alongside, and it has lots of cilantro in it. People can (and do) add some of that to the guacamole if they want cilantro flavor.

A few more thoughts: Some people add a pinch of sugar; they claim it brings out the flavor of the avocados and smooths the bite of the chiles.

If it's going to be awhile before you serve it, here are some tricks to keep the top from going brown. Remember that it is contact with the air that darkens the avocados, so anything you do to reduce that will reduce the darkening. After the whole thing is ready and in the serving bowl, spread a very thin layer of mayo over the top, and then right before serving, stir it in. Or do the same thing with the lime juice. Don't add it until the end, squeeze it over, rotating the bowl until all the dip is covered with the juice. Stir it in just before serving. But what I usually do is to take some Saran/Glad/Whatever Wrap and place it directly on top of the guacamole, pressing and smoothing until there are no air bubbles. This also works with cut avocado halves. (To me, the "pit" thing is just silly. It's never worked for me and it looks dumb and makes me feel as though if people see it there they'll consider me to be the sort of person that'll believe anything and is probably still looking for Madam Cleo to give me romance tips. So I eschew it.)

~~~~~~

Salsa de Jalapeño

Remove stems from peppers. Put whole peppers, tomatoes and garlic salt into your food processor or blender and process until ingredients are thoroughly blended, but do not pulvarize seeds. It'll make it bitter.

Note: This is not a "salsa" like you're accustomed to - it's more like nothing but ground up pickled jalapenos. It's really hot - much too hot for most folks to use for dips, etc., but it's great for flavoring foods. You won't use anywhere near all of it for the guacamole, so store the rest in a jar in the fridge. Use it when preparing other foods like roasts, soups, eggs, etc.

And please don't try making my guacamole without it. It only takes a minute and it's just not as good and you'll be upset with me.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Jaymes... What will it cost us to get you to put that in RecipeGullet. :biggrin:

I REALLY don't want to lose a Jaymes recipe for guacamole.


Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Often I do just make the basic:  avocado, lime, salt.

But after years of trying, experimenting, stealing others' recipes, this is the one that I like the best, and the one which garners me the most compliments:

Well, that does sound very good...my previous comments aside, *maybe* I'll have to try another recipe. (I'm especially intrigued with the jalapeno salsa).

I'm the one that mentioned not liking tomatoes in guac. For me, the texture and flavor of the tomatoes don't really add to the experience I'm looking for. Only caveat, is that I haven't made my own guac with tomatoes in it in any serious way, so maybe making sure to remove as much of the water as possible will help (and also cutting into small dice and using ripe tomatoes...).

Your testimony and experience sound convincing enough for me to give it a try (even if I don't have a tree in my yard!) :smile:

Thanks for the detailed recipe, Jaymes


Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Jaymes... What will it cost us to get you to put that in RecipeGullet. :biggrin:

I REALLY don't want to lose a Jaymes recipe for guacamole.

Actually, I got asked that same thing a long time ago.

So it's there.

:biggrin:


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Of all the ingredients mentioned, the one that always gets named besides avocados is actually the one that's the least authentic (in the most ridiculously purist sense): lime. No citrus before the conquest.

I like hass avocado, white onion, roma tomato, a mixture of serranos and jalapenos, a little cilantro, salt, and plenty of lime. Maybe a kitchen sink version, but I love it.

Mixing serranos and jalapenos gives a more rounded flavor. Jalapenos are brighter and the burn is focused in the front of the mouth. Serranos burn the back of the mouth.

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