I have recently been to Mexico on a trip throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Getting to know the Mexican cuisine beyond tacos and quesadillas was one of the tasks of the trip. Which led to a cooking class with a chef named Juan Pablo. Very funny guy. And he knew his craft very well. He was born in Mexico city where he learned cooking, then worked all over the world to spread Mexican food and eventually ended up back in Mexico. So he was well versed on Mexican food, the differences between foods in the Mexican regions as well as the differences of Mexican food inside and outside Mexico.
One of the dishes we prepared was the classic guacamole and a few variations. One was the roasted pumpkin seed one which I explain below.
The name guacamole comes from the spanish word for avocado which is "aguacate" (look at it like a-GUACA-te) and the word "mole" which means sauce, so guacamole is basically avocado sauce.
The ingredients for his recipe for guacamole are
6 ripe avocados
3 freshly squeezed limes
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
5 tbsp mint leaves, chopped
1 chile habanero, finely chopped
salt to taste
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, ground, roasted (optional)
How to prepare the guacamole
Mix the red onion, chile, mint and salt in a bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes so the salt extracts the juices. Add the lime juice and mix well. Then add the avocado. And use a spoon to mix it gently. To get a thick and chunky guacamole. As an option for variation add the ground and roasted pumpkin seeds.
One point he made is that guacamole is not used as an appetizer or a dipping sauce in classical Mexican cuisine. Its primarily a garnish for meat, fish and seafood dishes.
Another point of his was the three principles of a great guacamole or in his words "three ways how gringos fu&% up guacamole all the time"
1. Salsa first, then add the avocado – Don't mix everything at once. All ingredients except the avocado first. Grind them up to a nice salsa then add the avocado. It will allow the flavor of the salsa to develop without molesting the avocado.
2. Only use a spoon to mix it. No mashing or blending. – A great guacamole is not a puree. You want chunks for flavor and texture. And you want to mix as little as possible oxygen into the guacamole to minimize oxidization which preserves it.
3. Don't add tomatoes - Tomatoes will draw flavor and the liquid will make the guacamole too soupy. No tomato. It might look nice. That's the only benefit though.
Combining knowledge with humor is a great way to learn. And if its on Mexican food. Even better. Try this at home. Especially the ground and roasted pumpkin seeds made it the best guacamole I have ever had.
Guacamole and avocados in general are great foods that I like to recommend to my clients and athletes as a great source for healthy fats, primarily monounsaturated fatty acids.
Enjoy your guacamole!
Picture: Guacamole prepared in a traditional molcajete.