Whew! Made it to the weekend and the Superbowl. Now what is there to eat?
Grocery store guacamole is good in a pinch, but the real stuff transforms the humble avocado into culinary art. Now that South Orange boasts two Mexican restaurants, Patch had a chance to sample the guacamole from both Eden Gourmet and Toro Loco. Then your editor made her own, combining elements of each into a satisfying snack.
Guacamole, which comes from Aztec words meaning “avocado” and “sauce,” is no mere chip dip: it’s a fine accompaniment to the humble turkey sandwich or a five-star shrimp-and-octopus ceviche. Served often with chips, on the side of an entrée (or a frosty beverage), it is sometimes underappreciated. “It’s the ketchup of Mexican restaurants,” avid home cook and local resident Jennifer Munoz told me sadly. “Overlooked on the table.” It’s time to change that.
While mass-market guacamole tends to be smooth, that uniform texture suggests serious food processing. Traditionally made with a molcajete, or mortal and pestle, guacamole is best when some of the avocado remains whole. Toro Loco’s guacamole is chunky, as if mashed with a fork, and studded with chopped tomato and torn cilantro leaves. Its not spicy, not salty, but relies on the avocado for flavor. It’s a hearty guacamole that stands up to the sizzling fajitas that fill the dining room.
Eden Gourmet makes a slightly smoother guacamole, though still clearly made by hand. It has a distinct twist of citrus and visible flecks of red onion. Again, it’s not at all spicy, and the lemon-lime zing make it ideal with seafood or the addictive chips that Eden sells nearby.
The guacamole recipe that follows is a combination; citrus zing meets chunks of avocado and tiny shards of red onion. The green of the cilantro and the red of the tomato make this a feast for the eyes and, I hope, for the palate.
Guacamole, South Orange Style
4 soft, ripe Haas avocados
Juice of half a lime
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (try to avoid stems)
1 ripe red tomato, seeded, and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped very small
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped as small as the onion
Cut the avocados in half, lengthwise. Twist the two hemispheres to separate, then discard the pit. Squeeze the sides to release the avocado into a bowl. Add lime juice and mash with a fork. Add the cilantro, tomato, onion, and jalapeno, and mash with a fork. The reds and greens should be evenly distributed. Add salt and pepper to taste.
This is best served fresh, and will become discolored if left out. If you need to store it, put the pit back into the mixture, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Remove the pit before serving.