Most avocado recipes leave out the trickiest and most important part: how to choose a perfect avocado. I consulted with Mexican chefs Zarela Martinez, Rico Torres, and Enrique Olvera, as well as Cuban cookbook author Maricel Presilla and Australian restaurateur Bill Granger. Their condensed collective wisdom is below. As for sourcing good tortillas, well, hopefully you’re near a tortilleria, and if not, you can order them from artisanal supplier Masienda, a favorite of Torres.
- First and foremost is picking the right kind of avocado. Luckily, the most widely available variety, the extra creamy Hass, is ideal. Some other commercially available kinds, such as Fuerte, are watery and better suited to refreshing salads. Most chefs recommend buying avocados while they’re still unripe and hard, lessening the likelihood that they’ve been bruised in a bin by some other unscrupulous avocado buyer. In the case of Hass, they will be green when unripe, so buy one that has its stem intact and no bruises. If you’d like to speed up the ripening process, put it in a paper bag or drawer with an ethylene-producing fruit, like a banana or apple. Whatever you do: Do not refrigerate it before it is ripe. The avocado should only be refrigerated once it’s ripe, after which it will keep for another four or five days. A ripe Hass avocado will be black with a little give, so that if you press it with a finger, it will leave a shallow impression. Olvera says it should be “not too soft, not too firm. Somewhere in between, but not exactly in the middle. More on the firm side, if that makes any sense. It probably takes practice. But it’s like knowing how to turn tortillas without burning your fingers. After a while, you do it by instinct."
- Now put it on a tortilla.
Mari Uyehara is a food and travel writer based in Brooklyn. She was previously a senior editor at Saveur, the food & drink editor at Time Out New York, and the food editor of Martha Stewart Living Radio.