Your Guide to Reading Between the Tines

The Unicyclist’s Standard Version Guacamole Recipe

If I were to become a hard-core locavore (not likely while my patoot is still parked here in ye arid desert), I suspect that I would bend the rules when it came to avocado.  Avocado and I have had a rocky relationship at times, due to my personal conviction that avocado belongs in the savory camp and not the sweet one, but I am still hopelessly devoted to this alligator-skinned fruit.  Never heard of a sweet avocado dish?  Besides avocado smoothies, custards, breads, and pies, there’s a simple breakfast in some parts of Latin America (such as Ecuador, where I spent about six months) that consists of avocado slices drizzled with honey, a slippery, sticky affair that doesn’t sit well with me.  And if you’ve ventured beyond the familiar, dark-green-to-black Hass avocados in the grocery store, you may have stumbled on a larger, bright-green variety that is naturally sweet, making for an odd sort of guacamole.  While it may just be that I’ve never had a really good avocado pie, I’ll confess: I think I can live without one.  After all, avocado fits so nicely in my salads, sandwiches, and guacamole benders.  Which, Gentle Readers, brings us to today’s recipe:

Guacamole.

There’s a surprising number of ways to make good guacamole.  I’ve even enjoyed it with sweet elements such as pomegranate seeds, chopped mango, and dried cranberries.  All of them are beautiful and bright against the creamy, salty, spiced avocado base, but my favorite is the Unicyclist’s Standard Version Guacamole.  Our household rules for good guacamole number exactly two.

1)  Pick a good avocado.  Make sure it’s the Hass variety.  It should be dark-skinned and slightly soft to the touch, but not mush.  Check the tip where the fruit had joined the tree; you want to make sure there’s no moldy fuzz there, and you also want to make sure the tip isn’t overly soft.  The warning sign is any spot (most likely at the tip, but not necessarily) where you can feel there is empty space between the skin and the flesh.  An avocado like this may have been bruised, or it may be overripe to the point of tasting like rancid bacon fat.  Either way, it’s going to harsh your guacamole mellow.

2)  Technique.  As with the beans, guacamole technique does make a difference that I think even an average taster can notice.  The Unicyclist’s method is old-school and pretty durn effective.  Deviate from the technique at your own peril, you deviant.  (To be fair, it will likely still be good, just not transcendent.)

The Unicyclist’s Standard Guacamole

Ingredients: (serves two guacamole addicts)

1 ripe Hass avocado

scant 1/4 tsp salt (cut back on the salt if you’re eating with salted tortilla chips)

heaping 1/4 tsp whole cumin seed

1/2-1 serrano or small jalapeño pepper, minced (totally optional, for those who like it hot)

1-2 Tbsp onion, finely chopped

1/2 medium tomato, diced

Juice from 1/4-1/2 lime

2 tsp chopped cilantro (coriander) leaves, more if you like, less if you don’t

Slice the avocado in half lengthwise, then twist it around the pit to open.  Remove the pit (sticking a knife into it and twisting it works, but so does pushing on it with fork tines more or less parallel to the avocado itself), then scoop the avocado out of its peel and into a bowl.  Mash the avocado thoroughly with a fork and add the juice from 1/4 of the lime.

Grind the cumin seed and salt using a mortar and pestle.  (The salt makes it easier to grind the cumin.)  Add the minced pepper, if using, and grind into a paste.  Add the onion and bruise it just enough that the onion softens and the flavors meld, but not enough to make paste.

Combine all the ingredients into the bowl with the avocado and mix. Taste your creation.  If necessary, adjust the salt, cumin, and lime.  The real estate the pit takes up can vary a great deal from avocado to avocado, so be prepared to play with the specific amounts of spice with each batch you make to appropriately flavor the amount of actual avocado flesh you have.

Enjoy your guacamole with tacos, enchiladas, corn chips, quesadillas, chopped salad, raw veggie slices, or anything else your imagination dreams up and your heart desires. Whatever you do, eat it immediately. Though you “can” store it in plastic wrap or with the pit in it to slow browning, it never tastes as good as when it is freshly mashed and mixed.

¡Buen provecho!

6 comments

6 Comments so far

  1. Chris February 24th, 2009 3:16 pm

    I have been subsisting on absolutely horrific dining hall guacamole for the past year and so you’re really killing me here with this recipe. There really is nothing better than honest guacamole with plenty of onions and kick that contrast so well with the fattiness of the avocado meat. What I wouldn’t give for a taste of this right now… :P

  2. Kimmus February 24th, 2009 11:29 pm

    mmmm….is this the guacamole Mr. Unacyclist made for us when you had us over? It was a-moz-ing (which is better than amazing!)

  3. Mangochild February 25th, 2009 2:47 am

    As soon as I saw this I thought of a woman at work who is crazy (and I mean crazy) about guacamole – but doesn’t have a good recipe for it. I think, if its okay with you, that I’d like to give this to her to share?

  4. Laurel February 25th, 2009 8:29 am

    Kimmus: I can guarantee you it was. :)

    Mangochild: Share away! Guacamole makes the world a happier place.

  5. Captain Mommy Pants February 25th, 2009 6:06 pm

    Yes it does! I am smiling just reading this – YUM!

  6. [...] for the perfect method for years and I’m excited to have another to try! She also posted the Unicyclist’s guacamole recipe if you’re [...]

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