“Simple” ethnic recipes often look deceivingly easy but end up being difficult to get right. It usually comes down to knowing certain visual cues during the preparation, but sometimes I think they have a secret or two that they don’t tell us about. Tomato sauce, pyrogy, and of course even a great sandwich are some other great examples of “simple” recipes that can be hard to prefect.

Almost everyone has eaten guacamole and most of us have had good and bad versions of it. Unfortunately most of the versions I have made at home never lived up to the best versions I have had and it has always frustrated me. Guacamole is made of just a few ingredients and that makes it all the most frustrating. Tt looks so simple but somehow others are able to coax so much more from them.

Recently I hit the delicious green jackpot when I was looking through the Alice Waters cookbook, In the Green Kitchen. In it Gilbert Pilgram, of the illustrious Zuni Cafe, details how to take the humble ingredients and transform them into a zesty, bright, and flavorful guacamole. The part that I seem to have been missing was macerating the onions in lime juice to remove their sharp raw taste. He also uses a lot more lime juice than I ever did and emphasized the need to balance the favors of the acid from limes, the creaminess of the avocado, the heat of the chili. and the salt.

It’s funny that Gilbert describes guacamole as “forgiving” and I have to agree and disagree. It is indeed tough to make a bad guacamole since everything is so good in it, but it does seem hard to get just the right balance to make a great guacamole.

Where have you had your best guacamole?

Guacamole – Recipe

Makes enough for 3-4 people

2 large ripe avocados
Sea salt
3 green onions
2 limes
1 jalapeno pepper
Small bunch cilantro
1 tomato – optional

  1. Halve the avocados and remove the pits. Scoop out the flesh into a mortar and season with a good pinch of sea salt.
  2. Slice the green onions and place in a small bowl. Juice the limes and add to the onion with a pinch of salt.
  3. Cut off the end of the pepper and discard. Slice the pepper lengthwise and remove the membranes and seeds. Flatter the jalapeno and finely dice it.
  4. Chop the tomato, if using. No need to skin it.
  5. Lightly mash the avocado – I love a chunky guacamole. Add the onion with juice, jalapeno, and tomato to the avocado and mix until combined.
  6. Taste and add more salt if needed. Chop the cilantro and add to the guacamole.

Enjoy with tortilla chips!

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