Saturday, September 24, 2016
Guacamole, AKA Avocado Salsa
If I was to describe guacamole to anyone that didn't know what it was, I would describe it as avocado salsa. That's pretty much it. Instead of tomatoes as your main ingredient in the ever popular standard tomato salsa, one would use mashed avocados. Everything else in the way of ingredients is pretty much the same.
When I go to the grocery store produce section and see the small pouches of guacamole mix hanging by the fresh avocados I cringe every time. I'm not looking to make green mush with some packaged flavourings added to it; my goal is to create something chunky and screaming with fresh flavours and textures. The solution? Obviously still buy the avocados, pass on the small guacamole packet, and pick up some fresh ingredients: lime, bell peppers, red onion, jalapeño, and garlic. Chances are you have everything else you need at home already: salt, pepper, a small amount of sugar, and I like to add some ground cumin too.
The first step is always to mash the avocado flesh with the lime juice. This fresh acid will assist tremendously in keeping the avocado flesh from oxidizing (going brown). Dice your bell peppers (I use both yellow and red ones), red onion, and jalapeño very small and mix them in. If you want it less hot, remove the inner white membrane and seeds from the jalapeño completely before dicing it. Squish the fresh garlic clove into a paste (better for combining its flavour thoroughly throughout the guacamole) and season to taste with the salt, pepper, sugar, and ground cumin. The sugar, although small in quantity, is important to balance the acid of the lime juice, so basically it tastes less sharp.
I always tend to leave out the white membrane and seeds of the jalapeño and add some sambal oelek instead for the heat. Firstly, you may be wondering what sambal oelek is, and secondly why would I do this? Sambal oelek is like dried crushed chillies (you know, like the ones you have in your spice cupboard) but in liquid/paste form. It is available down the imported foods aisle of almost any major grocery store and a great ingredient to have on hand. It basically lasts indefinitely in the fridge. If it is like dried crushed chillies, why don't I just use those? Because they need time to rehydrate to release their flavour and heat. Sambal oelek is instant flavour and heat.
I use the Sambal oelek instead of the seeds and membrane of the jalapeño to give my guacamole more complex heat flavour. The jalapeño flesh will still have some heat and flavour and the Sambal oelek will also add some. So basically you are getting flavoured spiciness from 2 different sources instead of just one, and to me it just tastes better that way.
My goal for writing this blog entry is to get you to look at avocados differently the next time you see them at the grocery store. They are currently on sale at Save-on-Foods (Overwaitea) stores for only 79 cents each, if you live in the BC/Alberta area. If you don't live here, go buy some anyway. Although they are high in fat/calories, it is a very healthy fat and very good for you in moderation. The only thing unhealthy about this appetizer I made was the tortilla chips I bought to eat with it - I knew I'd be able to work something unhealthy into my plan. ;)
Until next time...Happy Cooking!