Thursday, April 17, 2008

Condiment of the Week: Guacamole

Condiment. Dip. The reason god created tortilla chips. Classifying guacamole is a pretty tough task. Is it something to be used with Mexican food and put on top of burritos? Is it a dip or a condiment? Do you put it on sandwiches like a spread? Perhaps we will never truly know. The important thing, however, is that it exists, and for that I am forever thankful. Good guacamole usually has two important elements going for it, creating it fresh and delicious avocados. The ingredients and texture of guacamole always seem to vary slightly depending on where you buy it or who makes it. One item that should never ever ever be used (I can't stress this enough) is sour cream. It gives guacamole the wrong type of texture and makes it too creamy and mutes the overall flavors that should be bold and jump out at you in harmony. Cilantro, jalapeno, avocado and tomatoes are almost always found in guacamole. After that most recipes tend to differ slightly. Some people add onions and garlic. Others add in lemon and/or lime juice. I've had some that even add small pieces of citrus zest and parsley. The one thing that no guacamole should ever be without is salt. More so than any other food, avocados need salt to really bring out their flavor and sweetness, and it cannot be overlooked when making guacamole. I find restaurant made guacamole's biggest faux pas is the extreme lack of salt and always keep an eye out to see if it's added when made in front of you.

The best texture usually comes from hand mashing the ingredients with a fork (or masher if you want to get technical) although there is something to be said for the "fancy" way of doing it table side in a big stone bowl. Tomatoes don't really add much flavor, but if diced add a nice texture. Personally, I like my other ingredients like garlic, onions, jalapenos and cilantro to be very finally chopped and to keep the avocado chunky. The best guacamole always has that balance of chunky and smooth, allowing you to dip a chip and actually see a piece of avocado within the rest of the dip.

While some may claim they make better guacamole (and to each their own in terms of composition of flavor) I personally, of course, think mine is the best, despite using a lot of ingredients. Although the exact measurements vary, I make my recipe with avocado, cilantro, tomato, garlic, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice, salt & pepper, and Franks Red Hot. Recipes and tastes may vary, but one thing we can all agree on is that you can never have enough guacamole!

Start your own Guac Off

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