If you own a molcajete and tejolote, then you probably don’t need this post.
If you don’t have the above AND you love avocados and authentic guacamole, then this post is specifically for you! Bookmark it or Pin It. (it’s ok, we’ll be right here when you get back)
The tools of the trade: The molcajete is the bowl or mortar, and the tejolote is the pestle or crushing tool. This kitchen tool set has been in use since about 600 BC. And like it’s predecessor the metate, is carved from basalt. (a very specific type of volcanic rock) While metate’s were used to grind grains (primarily corn for the Mayan’s – the other indigenous Mexican’s) the molcajete was used by the Aztecs to make ahuacamolli (literally loosely translates “avocado sauce” or “avocado mixture” or “avocado concoction’ if the Aztec’s had a Nahuatl word for “concoction”) and because of their curved shape and ability to hold fluids could be cooked with as well.
These tools are so durable that they are passed down from generation to generation (yes, literally multiple generations!) So if you go looking to buy one, buy from a reputable source, it’s an investment you can pass on. Don’t buy strictly based on price or you will likely wind up with a molcajete that can never be used as intended.
Why? Because every batch of salsa or guacamole you make in it will be “gritty” and your friends will be less than impressed – not just with the uninspired flavor, but the unnecessary trip to the dentist that will also likely result. An authentic molcajete will become smooth after initial seasoning and after a few batches will begin to consistently produce great flavor in your salsas and guacamoles because each use further seasons the bowl.
So what went into an authentic Aztecan ahuacamolli? The earliest reference include only two ingredients, avocado and sea salt. And while the Spainard’s were short on recipes for their preferred version, it’s been said that they also liked to put sugar on their avocados. Shortly after guacamole’s introduction, tomato, onion, lime and chile’s became part of the mix – all of which grow natively in Mexico.
In fact, the word tomato comes from the Nahuatl word “tomatl” which literally means swelling fruit and was used to describe a small yellow tomato first domesticated by the Aztec’s. As for the flavor profile, we shouldn’t be surprised that guacamole is an iteration of the big three in combination – salt, fat and acid!
Today a well-balanced guacamole consists of the ingredients listed in the recipe below. (yes, this is the recipe for what you see in the photo above!) As an aside, authentic guacamole is chunky, not creamy and as you can see from the recipe below – no whipping, frappé-ing or purée-ing, and it contains no sour cream! (sour cream was unheard of in the meso-american diet! it was actually introduced by the gringos’ circa 1950 here in the U.S.)
Feel free to down-size the recipe, though you probably won’t want to. This stuff goes fast once your friends get a taste for it! If you do down-size, it’s important to keep the proportions the same. As always, you know where you can get the salt!
- 8 hass avocados
- 1 small to medium red onion
- 1 lime
- 1-1/2 cups cilantro (fresh chopped)
- 4 Serrano chile peppers
- 3 – 4 pinches Sel Gris de Guérande
- Halve avocados & remove pit. Slice avocado in checkerboard method while still in skins (first one direction, then perpendicular about ⅜” between slices)
- Take a serving-ware tablespoon and scoop cubed avocado out of skins.
- Slice lime in half and squeeze all juice over the avocado. (this will prevent the avocado from turning brown and offer a nice acid to complement the fat in the avocado)
- Add sea salt (yes, Sel Gris really is best here! If you are thinking Himalayan or some other sea salt, put it away!)
- Dice onion into ⅛” pieces (keeping onion pieces smaller will not overwhelm the guacamole with a strong onion flavor)
- Chop cilantro.
- Remove pith and seeds from Serrano’s and dice into 1/16″ or smaller pieces. (this will give a nice gentle heat throughout the guacamole rather than “hot spots” of pepper)
- Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and serve!