Wednesday, December 22, 2010
There are some dishes I make on a regular basis yet give no thought to presenting on the blog, simply because, to me, they seem, well, everyday. It's not that these recipes aren't tasty, they wouldn't get made if they weren't, but my feeling is, does the world really need another guacamole recipe for instance?
We were at a get together with friends where we had all brought a plate or two to share. I'd made some simple grilled chicken, marinaded while still warm with fresh coriander, cumin, chile and garlic, dressed with some olive oil and lime juice, partnered with a simple salad of Spanish leanings.
It was a last minute decision to make guacamole, perhaps driven by the leftover coriander, which never seems to keep very well, turning yellow in the blink of an eye.
When my friends tried this "Indian butter" as Huntley Dent describes it in his idiosyncratic book, The Feast of Santa Fe, they were rather startled.
'How did you make it?' they demanded to know.
My friends maintained they'd eaten guacamole plenty of times beforehand, but never like this, which left me somewhat bemused as it was just a standard preparation in our kitchen. It was its liveliness that drew their attention and made me realize, as a whole large bowl just evaporated, that for a lot of folk, guacamole can be, well, it has to be said, a tad boring.
Though Dent's book leans more towards TexMex, he gently reveals a deep affection for the foods of Mexico and strongly suggests that a bowl of simply mashed avocados and a touch of garlic salt is no guacamole at all. Yet a few think that something of this calibre qualifies as the real deal, but that is to sell this rich green sauce short.
Further, dashing any perceived pedantry, he goes on to say, 'Before giving several recipes for guacamole and its variants, I have listed nine approaches that turned up in my casual research. By mentioning these, you can instantly settle any passionate arguments over what is true guacamole - all of them are.'
One thing I'd like to add to that is you can't make a halfway decent guacamole without lime juice, if you don't have any limes make frijoles refritos or some pico de gallo instead; the creaminess of a properly ripe avocado insists on the aromatic tartness of a lime. With a bit of salt you could leave it there, the only other decision that needs to be made is answering the peanut butter question - do you like it rough with some texture or completely smooth and creamy?
The version I like to make is a bit chunky and also contains fresh coriander and tomato, but feel free to omit one or the other or even add a little finely chopped onion or green chile, perhaps a whisper of garlic. An important thing to note is you can't make this with hard unripe avocados, the creamy texture just won't materialize, just hard little tasteless chunks. The avocado should have just a slight give when pressed.
It's a sauce you'd be wise to only make when Haas avocados are in season. It could be made with other varieties but they seem to lack the full bodied flavour and rich butteriness of the Haas.
2 or 3 ripe Haas avocados
1 lime, juiced
several stalks coriander with leaves, finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, finely diced
Cut the avocados in half, remove the seed and scoop out the flesh onto a chopping board. Roughly chop and place in a bowl with the lime juice, finely chopped coriander and finely diced tomato, season with salt. With a fork, mash the avocado until you reach the desired texture. Serve