One of Mexican actor Demian Bichir's best performances during an interview with The Associated Press was describing how he makes guacamole, something he learned while working as a busboy at the Rosa Mexicana restaurant in New York in 1985.
His gestured the chopping and mixing, saying preparation requires a molcajete, a Mexican mortar and pestle made from volcanic rock.
In that method, the onion, cilantro, chilies are ground together in the mortar until they coat the walls of the bowl. The avocado then is mixed in, followed by more chopped onion and cilantro, then the tomato and hot sauce.
Since most American kitchens don't have a molcajete, we've adapted his recipe to use a knife.
Whichever method you use, you can moderate the heat of the guacamole two ways. First, limit the amount of hot sauce you add. Second, slice open and discard the inner ribs and seeds from the serrano chilies. These parts contain most of the heat.
Note that this recipe contains little acid, which preserves the green color of the avocados in most guacamole recipes. If you make this ahead of time or don't plan to consume it immediately, consider stirring in 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Otherwise, the guacamole will turn brown (but is fine to eat).
Start to finish: 10 minutes
1 small yellow or white onion, finely diced
Chopped fresh cilantro, to taste
Serrano chilies, to taste
4 avocados, pitted and cut into cubes
1 to 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
Hot sauce, to taste
On a cutting board, mound together three-quarters of the diced onion and a bit each of the cilantro and chilies. Start with about 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro and 1 chili. You can add more later. Use a large knife to repeatedly chop the mixture further. Aim to reduce the mixture to as close to a pulp as possible.
Turn the knife on its side and, applying firm pressure to the side of the blade, use it to smash the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl.
Gently mix the avocado into the onion mixture. Add the remaining diced onion, another tablespoon or 2 of cilantro and the chopped tomatoes. Stir gently, then taste and season with salt. Add hot sauce, as well as additional finely chopped chilies, to adjust the heat as desired.
(Recipe adapted from Demian Bichir)