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The Best Home Made Guacamole

Submitted by Tim Brice on August 25, 2009 – 7:43 pmNo Comment

I love avocados and I really love guacamole. I grew up in southern California with a Hass avocado tree in my back yard and I grew to love them. It wasn’t until I moved out of Los Angeles in Southern California that it become clear that you have to pay for them. Guacamole, the most common avocado preparation, is a crowd favorite and a taco bar classic. Good guac is great bar food.

The key to great guac is simple: all ingredients must be at their best. The avocados must be ripe but not over-ripe. The white onion must be rinsed of it’s excess sulfury bite. The cumin must come from seeds toasted in a dry skillet and ground in a spice grinder. The garlic must be diced fresh and not powdered. Even the salt must be either Kosher or large flake sea salt.

This might sound like a lot of foodie pretense but it’s not. The admonitions above are simply the steps any self-respecting home cook would follow. In fact, it is the toasting of the cumin seeds and then grinding them that gives this guacamole such solid depth of flavor. Untoasted cumin and/or cumin that is pre-ground and poured from a spice jar both lack that depth and instead just taste flat. The result is a real balance between the buttery smoothness of the avocado, the bite of the lime juice and the earthy bass note of the cumin.

IMG 0929 The Best Home Made Guacamole

The salt amount, as with most recipes, is just a suggestion. You must taste this guacamole before and after adding salt the first time. There are two not so obvious reasons for this. The first is  the quality and level of flavor in the avocados. Avocados are inconsistent in flavor and vary dramatically from one to another. This will dictate how much salt you need as much as the second reason: the type of salt used. I recommend Kosher salt or sea salt and, either way, large flake if possible.

As silly as it sounds, common table salt is too salty. It also has iodine which tastes weird in guacamole. You are looking for well-seasoned avocado here and not saltyness. Pretty much everything you are going to eat with guacamole will be salty, so just taste it to get it right.

You could, of course, serve this with store bought tortilla chips alongside a nice chunky tomato salsa. Instead of (or with) tortilla chips, serve this guacamole as part of an assorted fresh vegetable crudite platter with carrots, radishes, sliced jicama and even celery.

My favorite guacamole bar presentation is in a bowl surrounded by shrimp that was marinated in red chili paste and lime juice and then grilled. Add some hot home made corn tortillas and you have the fixings for a delicious but simple mini taco to accompany your margarita. Call me crazy, but I also like to spread this stuff on a grilled cob of corn.


3 ripe Haas avocados

1/4 white onion, rinsed and diced small

1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seed (see note below)

2 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro (about 1/8 cup before chopping)

1/2 jalapeño diced very small

Juice of half a lime

Kosher or sea salt to taste

1/2 Roma tomato cut in 1/2 inch dice (optional)

Scoop out avocado from it’s skin and place in a bowl. Gently mash avocado with a fork until smooth. Add all remaining ingredients to the bowl and gently fold to incorporate.

Taste. There should be lime, cumin, onion, salt and a bit of green heat from the jalapeño, but none of those flavors should dominate. They should be in balance and be carried by the buttery, heaven-sent avocado. Adjust these bit players to your own taste. Chop you cilantro very fine. No one wants to get a piece of leaf or steam stuck in their teeth.

This can be kept in the fridge for one day if you press a piece of plastic wrap down on the guacamole so no air can get to the surface. Otherwise, it will turn brown quickly.

Note: Toasting dried cumin seed is easy.  Set a dry skillet on medium-low heat and place just over one teaspoon of whole cumin seeds into the skillet.  Stir cumin seeds every thirty seconds or so to insure even toasting and continue cooking until small puffs of smoke can be seen coming off the cumin and the seeds have browned slightly.  Take off the heat and place in a blade-type coffee grinder and grind until completely turned to powder about twenty seconds.


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