Just about everyone who comes into my New York restaurants orders guacamole. Whether it’s Super Bowl Sunday, Cinco de Mayo, or just a regular Tuesday happy hour, people can’t get enough. I can’t either. I grew up on guacamole in Mexico City, and it’s one of my favorite accompaniments for rice, meat, or warm tortillas. After tasting versions all over Mexico, I’ve developed a method that I think makes the best.
My first secret is to make a paste of onion, hot chile, cilantro, and a good dose of salt. Mashing these ingredients together before mixing them with chunks of avocado ensures that all of their flavors are evenly distributed. My other secret is going light on the lime to let the avocado’s buttery taste shine through.
That makes for a delicious basic guacamole, but I often don’t stop there. Guacamole loosely translates to “avocado mix,” and in Mexico, there are many, many regional and personal mixes. A few of my favorite add-ins are a spicy blend of crabmeat and shrimp or lobster; cool cucumber and sweet-tart pineapple; and an addictive combination of smoked almonds and creamy blue cheese. Whether you try one or make them all for your next party, these guacamoles are sure to get things rocking.
How to rock your guac
|Mash the onions, chile, and half of the cilantro thoroughly to form a paste, but don’t worry if you can still see cilantro leaves. A Mexican stone mortar and pestle, called a molcajete, is a great vessel for this.||Use the pestle or a fork to scrape the paste off the bottom of the mortar as you mix it with the avocados. Mash just enough to bind everything together, leaving some of the avocado pieces intact.|
|Classic Guacamole||Cucumber-Pineapple Guacamole||Blue Cheese-Smoked Almond Guacamole|
|Seafood Guacamole||Homemade Baked Tortilla Chips||Homemade Fried Tortilla Chips|
Tip: Start with the Best Avocados
Like many fruits and vegetables, avocados from different regions taste different. I find Hass avocados from Mexico to be the creamiest tasting, but other Hass work, too, as long as they’re perfectly ripe. Here’s how to tell:
- Look for dark green, almost black skin.
- They should give readily under gentle pressure. If you have to squeeze, let them ripen at room temperature for another day or two.
Photos by Scott Phillips