Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Part 7 Mexican (Avocados) Cuisine

"Avocados" are used all over the world.  However, I believe that when you mention the name most people think of "Mexican Cuisine."  Mexico is in fact the largest producer of avocados in the world.  No other country is even close to them in production.

Most everyone, also, first thinks of "Guacamole" when you mention the word avocado.  But Mexican cuisine uses the avocado for more than just this one dish.  In fact, they not only use the avocado's pulp but it's leaves too.  They use the leaves both fresh and dried in dishes.  In the USA, the leaves are found in Mexican grocery stores or specialty stores.  The dry leaves are used similar to a bay leaf.

The avocado is used in soups, salads, sauces, marinades, stews, tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and with seafood.  There are several types of avocados but the two most common would be the "Fuerte" (Original Mexican avocado) and "Haas" (common to the USA & Mexico).

The Fuerte has a glossy green smooth skin with yellowish-green pulp.  The Haas has dark green skin that turns black as it ripens.  It too has the yellowish-green pulp to eat.

When buying avocados, look for ones that have a little give when you press the top end of the fruit.  If you have ones that are not ripe yet, leave on a counter for a couple of days.  As soon as the avocado is ripe, refrigerate it.  This will help them to last a little longer.  As they over-ripen the pulp will start to turn black.  This also happens if they get bruised.  Exposing the pulp to air will also cause it to turn black.

To help keep this from happening, cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Another method to help keep the pulp from blackening is to cover it with water.  An example would be guacamole.  After you finish making it, put it in a sealable container and cover with a 1/4 to 1/2 inch of water.  Use an small measuring cup and slowly pour the water over the guacamole (or whatever you have used the pulp for) trying not to disturb it.

There are also several different ways to remove the avocado pulp from it's shell.

First there is the cutting it in half method.

To do this, cut the avocado in half from top to bottom.  Take a half in each hand and turn in opposite directions to separate.  The pit will usually stay in one half.  Carefully put the knife blade into the pit and turn it while holding the avocado half in the other hand.  The pit should release from avocado and remain stuck to the knife.  Carefully remove from the knife.

This works well for scooping a half of avocado pulp out in one piece.  You do this by just using a tablespoon and slipping between the shell and the pulp.  Then working your way around the entire inside.

It also works well for cubing or dicing the avocado pulp.  In this case, hold a half in the palm of your hand and use a pairing knife to run slices through the pulp without going through the skin.  Then repeat making slices diagonally across your first ones.  You will want to keep the distance between the slices equal so you have uniform pieces.  Then use a tablespoon to scoop them out.  You could try peeling the skin off too.

Second is the quartering method.

You start just like above cutting it in half.  Then you turn it and repeat the cut giving you 4 equal quarters of avocado.  They will usually start falling apart with the pit dropping out.  Once you have the 4-quarters, it is easy to peel the skin from the pulp.  Just start a the tip and peel back the skin.  You may need to use your fingers to get between the skin and pulp.  Practice makes it easier as with any new thing you try.

These quarters without the skin can than be mashed, chopped up, sliced or used in food processors for desired needs.  It is another way to make avocado use easy.

I already have a couple of guacamole recipes on the blog.  My favorite is Guacamole (Villa del Arco) It is an easy mild guacamole to which you could add heat if desired.  This week on Thursday, I have a "Spicy Guacamole" recipe for you to try.  My favorite doesn't have tomatoes or chiles in it.  This new one has both.  Tomorrow is a recipe for "Avocado Soup" and it is easy and tasty.  Again it doesn't have heat to it but could if you wanted.

So always I hope this has been helpful to you and you have learned something new about avocados.  Enjoy this week's recipes and until next week "Happy Cooking."

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