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About a year ago, my family and I went on a cruise to Mexico. On one of our excursions, I had an opportunity to take a cooking class to make authentic guacamole and a habanero sauce. I love cooking classes, so I was very excited to participate. In the class, I learned some great lessons, and I want to share the recipe and tips I learned with you today. I also have a beloved teacher, Chef Kelly, who taught me how to perfectly dice an onion. I would like to pass that secret on as well!
When you are looking for the perfect avocado, you want to look for ones that are a dark green to black in color. When holding the avocado, it should not be very hard or very soft, but rather subtlety give into a little pressure.
When in Mexico, the instructor made sure we understood that authentic guacamole does not contain a lot of ingredients. Guacamole is to be appreciated by its simplistic goodness, with basic ingredients only.
The habanero sauce is to be used to top your guacamole. However, I have found that the sauce can also be used to spice up any dish. We love it on pork loin, cooked greens, and really anything that needs a pop of flavor.
Because avocados oxidize and turn brown when exposed to air, we will prep all the other ingredients first, and dice the avocados last.
It is extremely important when cooking to have a large, sharp chef’s knife. A good chef’s knife is key to chopping safely. Dull knives mean danger in the kitchen. I use both Cutco and a Wusthof knives (click to see the latest prices on Amazon) in my kitchen because I believe that they are of good quality. A good knife is an expense once, and then it will last a lifetime.
1 white onion
1 large or 2 small tomatoes
1 bundle of cilantro
½ teaspoon of your favorite salt (I use Maldon’s Salt)
Let’s dice the onion first. Begin by cutting the onion in half, in the direction of its lines. However, you want to still preserve the roots/stems (do not cut the roots/stems off on each end). Peel the skin off the onion and lay the cut portion face down on a cutting board (click to see the latest prices on Amazon). I prefer using thin, dishwasher safe cutting boards when I prep my food.
Have the lines of the onion facing vertically. After you have both halves facing down on the cutting board, begin cutting along the lines of the onion. Be sure to not cut completely through the onion at this time. You can definitely adjust for thinner or thicker cuts but use the lines as your guide.
When you have cut along the onion lines, turn the onion horizontally, and continue to make vertical cuts. Because the onion is layered, this should result in a perfect chop. Place onions in a bowl and set to the side.
Although many people think that you should dice a tomato for guacamole, the instructor in Mexico taught us that you only want to use the outside of the tomato. The inside of the tomato changes the texture and taste of the guacamole.
Begin by cutting the tomato into quarters.
Use a knife to run along the inside skin, removing the vein and the seeds.
Cut the tomato skin both vertically and horizontally for a nice rough chop. Set aside.
Cut the limes into halves and set aside
To destem the cilantro, hold a cilantro stem upright and pinch off the top leaves (you will use those too). Run your fingers along the stem in a downward motion, pulling the leaves as you go.
Bunch the cilantro leaves tight in your hand to compress them. Place the cilantro on the cutting board while it is still bundled, then chop it with your knife.
Salt is extremely important in guacamole, and in cooking in general. I do not like heavily salted foods. However, salt’s purpose is to open up the taste buds on your tongue so that you can receive the flavor of the dish. If you do not use enough salt, the dish will be bland. When using salt for guacamole, I begin taking a larger grained salt (Maldon’s is too fine here) and placing it in my mortar. I then take my pestle (click to see the latest prices on Amazon) and give the salt a nice rough grind.
Prepare your avocados by cutting around the avocado vertically. You will feel the seed of the avocado when you cut, and that is normal. Don’t cut through the seed. Next, twist one half of your avocado to separate the pieces.
Spoon out the seeds but save them! The seeds will be important for the end product. Slice horizontal and vertical marks in the avocados, then use a spoon to scoop the avocado out of its skin. Be sure not to damage the skins as we will use them as serving dishes.
Mixing the Guacamole
Begin by placing the avocados into a glass bowl and shredding the pieces with two forks. Next, add the juice of half a lime to add creaminess to this dish (I use a lemon juicer (click to see the latest prices on Amazon) for both limes and lemons. It gets every drop of juice out of the fruit and is easier on the hands). Mix the avocado and lime juice, then add in salt. Fold in the desired amounts of tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Add the other half of the juiced lime. In this step, you can add more salt based on preference. Just remember that your chips will be salted. At this point, place the avocado seeds back into the mixture. The seeds, although not eaten, will aid in reducing the oxidation rate and help your guacamole stay fresh longer.
Now to spice up your guacamole try the habanero sauce
½ teaspoon salt (plus more if preferred)
Quarter two habaneros (leave the seeds and vein in the habanero) and place them in your mortar.
Sprinkle generously with salt (and black pepper if desired). Add the juice of an entire lime to the habanero and salt mixture. Use your pestle (click to see the latest prices on Amazon) to grind the pepper into your lime and salt. Before you add the sauce to any dishes, taste the potency. Habaneros are extremely spicy. I want to give you fair warning, a little sauce goes a long way.
Spoon the guacamole into leftover skins of the avocados.
Take your guacamole bowl and sprinkle the habanero sauce on top!
Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips!
Learning about food culture is so fascinating to me! Do you have any regional foods that you love? If so, please drop us a line in the comment section below!