LANGLEY ON COOKING: Flavourful guacamole marks Cinco de Mayo

Chef Dez looks for any excuse to eat food from various countries - this weekend he’ll sample Mexican

I love experiencing the tastes of different cuisines and I use any excuse I can find to switch things up a bit at the dinner table.

Celebratory dates from around the globe are perfect for this and May 5 marks Cinco de Mayo: a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

A common misconception is that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, which is actually on Sept. 16.

Cinco de Mayo is simply Spanish for fifth of May and is a regional holiday that commemorates Mexico’s defeat of the French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

Regardless of this distinction, it is a perfect day to prepare and enjoy Mexican food.

I have tasted a number of homemade salsas and guacamoles and many of them have fallen short of being incredible, let alone worthy of being called Mexican cuisine.

True guacamole (pronounced gwahk-ah-”MOLE”-lee) is not avocados that have been mashed together with an envelope of powders called “guacamole mix.”

I know there are a number of people who may struggle in the kitchen, or don’t believe they have the time in their schedules, to successfully chop a few handfuls of ingredients. But, once you try this recipe you will never want to go back to the powdered mix.

The only ingredient in this recipe that may seem foreign to you is “sambal oelek.”

It is a crushed chili product that comes in a liquid/paste form that is basically a re-hydrated form of the dried crushed chilies you have on your spice rack. It can usually be found in any major grocery store down the Asian food aisle or imported food aisle or in any gourmet food store.

Even if you have always made your guacamole from fresh ingredients, I am certain that you will still appreciate the complexity and balance of flavour this recipe has to offer, as well as the texture.

Eat, enjoy, and be merry this fifth of May… but try not to dance around the sombrero too much.

Fresh Guacamole

“Avocado salsa at its best – chunky and full of flavour. The lime juice will help to keep the avocados from oxidizing (turning brown).”

2 soft avocados

Juice from 1 large lime

1/4 yellow bell pepper, finely diced

1/4 red bell pepper, finely diced

1/4 red onion, finely diced

1/2 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp sambal oelek

1/2 tsp sugar

Salt & pepper, to taste

Cut, pit, and peel the avocados. Mash them in a medium bowl with the lime juice.

Add all of the other ingredients to the bowl and mix together. Refrigerate until needed.

– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley.

Visit him at www.chefdez.com.

Send questions to dez@chefdez.com or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4

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