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eG Cook-Off #81: The Avocado - Finding new popularity in the kitchen


David Ross
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avocado tree.jpg

 

Ah, the avocado! For many of us, this humble little fruit inspires only one dish. Yet the avocado has a culinary history that is deeper than we may understand.

 

The avocado (Persea Americana) is a tree thought to have originated in South Central Mexico.  It’s a member of the flowering plant family Lauraceae.  The fruit of the plant - yes, it's a fruit and not a vegetable - is also called avocado.

 

Avocados grow in tropical and warm climates throughout the world.  The season in California typically runs from February through September, but avocados from Mexico are now available year-round.

 

The avocado has a higher fat content than other fruits, and as such serves as an important staple in the diet of consumers who are seeking other sources of protein than meats and fatty foods.  Avocado oil has found a new customer base due to its flavor in dressings and sauces and the high smoke point is favorable when sautéing meat and seafood. 

 

In recent years, due in part to catchy television commercials and the influence of Pinterest, the avocado has seen a resurgence in popularity with home cooks and professionals.  Walk into your local casual spot and the menu will undoubtedly have some derivation of avocado toast, typically topped with bacon.  Avocados have found a rightful place back on fine dining menus, but unfortunately all too often over-worked dishes with too many ingredients and garnishes erase the pure taste and silky texture of an avocado. 

 

When I think of an avocado it’s the Hass variety.  However, a friend who lives in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, can buy Choquette, Hall and Lulu avocados in the local markets.  This link provides good information about the different varieties of avocados, when they’re in season and the differences in taste and texture. https://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/10/18/know-your-avocado-varieties-and-when-theyre-in-season/

 

I for one must challenge myself to start eating and cooking more avocados.  I think my recipe for guacamole served with chicharrones is superb, and the cobb salad with large chunks of ripe avocado is delicious, but as a close friend recently said, “one person’s ‘not especially new’ is another’s “eureka moment.” Well said and as history tells us, we’ll find plenty of eureka moments as we discuss and share our tales and dishes of avocado during eG Cook-Off #81: The Avocado.

 

Fun fact: The name avocado derives from the Nahuatl word “ahuacatl,” which was also slang for “testicle.”

See the complete eG Cook-Off Index here https://forums.egullet.org/topic/143994-egullet-recipe-cook-off-index/

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My avocado cookery is limited to guacamole, which by my own measure isn't very creative.  I do like a blt with sliced avocado added along with the bacon, lettuce and tomato, yet again not overly creative.  So I'll be looking to everyone for some ideas on how to experience the flavor of avocado in dishes that I wouldn't normally think of.

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Ha! I live in the jokeland of avocado toast. Have had the pleasure of my own trees. There are other countries where they are used in more sweet applicationslike the popular avocado drinks in Vietnamese cuisine. I topped my breakfast corn/egg tortilla with avocado chunks, hot sauce, melty cheese and torn cilantro this morning and am considering repeat tonight.  https://www.vietworldkitchen.com/blog/2007/07/avocado-shake.html

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Also quite common: An egg baked in an avo half is a thing as well as fried slices as appetizer. They are great cubed into ceviche. I think of them as a creamy, slightly grassy element in almost anything. There are numerous recipes on the net using them as a pasta sauce.

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I had a great dish in a fine dining restaurant many years ago - it was crabmeat rolled in a tube made from thin slices of haas avocado... I forget the details of it, but I remember that it was insanely good.

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I've loved avocados as far back as I can remember, which is pretty far. I still much, much prefer them as is, with salt and *maybe* a little squeeze of lime. Or enhanced a bit, as in guacamole. Otherwise, they're occasionally good for adding some fat or a textural contrast -- for example, in ceviche, as heidih mentioned, or as a less elegant version of what KennethT mentioned, in a salad I like to make with orange segments, shaved fennel, and shrimp.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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It is linked in  my post but just in case  - the incredible food writer Robyn Eckhardt shares this https://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia/2006/07/well_shut_my_mo.html

 

I had a flashback moment about my long ago childhood favorite school lunch. A sandwich with mashed avocado and garlic powder. I was teased massively but they were good!

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35 minutes ago, Alex said:

I've loved avocados as far back as I can remember, which is pretty far. I still much, much prefer them as is, with salt and *maybe* a little squeeze of lime. Or enhanced a bit, as in guacamole. Otherwise, they're occasionally good for adding some fat or a textural contrast -- for example, in ceviche, as heidih mentioned, or as a less elegant version of what KennethT mentioned, in a salad I like to make with orange segments, shaved fennel, and shrimp.

Tell us more about that salad.

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I love avocadoes! In salads, on toast, smeared on crackers, in guacamole or ceviche. None of those treatments requires cooking. However, I've seen some cooked applications that also look great and this will be a good incentive for me to try.

 

Several years ago, member @Dejah posted about stuffed, fried avocados. Here is her original post with a picture of the results, and here are her instructions. I've had this bookmarked for an embarrassingly long time without trying it, but I'm in a good position to do so in the next few days.  Beautiful Haas avocadoes have come available in the grocery store, and I have several ripening for the event. I've put the links here in case someone else (Dejah, perhaps?) wants to have a go at it too.

Edited by Smithy
spelling (log)
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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I'm not too fond of the fried ones. I think even a light batter interferes with their delicate flavor such that they become just a texture. That said and as previously n0ted I am quite a fan girl in general. In a warm prep where the cubes are added at the very end (so just heated a bit) or a dal they can be a lovely element. 

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1 hour ago, Alex said:

I've loved avocados as far back as I can remember, which is pretty far. I still much, much prefer them as is, with salt and *maybe* a little squeeze of lime. Or enhanced a bit, as in guacamole. Otherwise, they're occasionally good for adding some fat or a textural contrast -- for example, in ceviche, as heidih mentioned, or as a less elegant version of what KennethT mentioned, in a salad I like to make with orange segments, shaved fennel, and shrimp.

 

29 minutes ago, ElsieD said:

Tell us more about that salad.

 

Thanks for asking, but there's not much more to say. I poach and chill the shrimp. It goes on a bed of whatever greens I choose at the moment -- arugula plus a milder leaf seems to work well -- toss with a light mustard dressing, and top with toasted pine nuts or almond slivers. Some fresh tarragon in the dressing probably couldn't hurt.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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I made vegan chocolate avocado “ice cream” last year and it was really good, the avocado’s creaminess/fat enhanced the texture and honestly you didn’t actually taste avocado.

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"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast" - Oscar Wilde

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2 hours ago, Smithy said:

I love avocadoes! In salads, on toast, smeared on crackers, in guacamole or ceviche. None of those treatments requires cooking. However, I've seen some cooked applications that also look great and this will be a good incentive for me to try.

 

Several years ago, member @Dejah posted about stuffed, fried avocados. Here is her original post with a picture of the results, and here are her instructions. I've had this bookmarked for an embarrasingly long time without trying it, but I'm in a good position to do so in the next few days.  Beautiful Haas avocadoes have come available in the grocery store, and I have several ripening for the event. I've put the links here in case someone else (Dejah, perhaps?) wants to have a go at it too.

Haven't made this for a while. Not great selection on avocado at the moment, and anything worth buy is outrageous!

 

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Dejah

www.hillmanweb.com

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Thanks for this challenge. I have a huge tree that’s full of baby avocados. No idea when they’ll ripen, but I’m hoping for a glut. 

Smashed avocado (basically avo on toast) is blamed for the inability of millennials to get into the housing market here.

Love the idea of cubes in dal. 

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Has anyone ever pickled avocado?  I'm thinking the soft texture of diced avocado might suffer in a pickling liquid.  I'm thinking about a fish dish using both raw avocado and pickled if I can pull that off.

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I grew up in NY, on the upper west side of Manhattan. When we went out we had Chinese, or deli, or Italian, or my father's obsession, Armenian. He was not Armenian. I don't remember ever being in a Mexican or south of the border style joint in NY. Until I moved to New Mexico in the late 60's I had never eaten an avocado. Guacamole and chips were around every corner and at every potluck. One favorite way to eat it was to scramble cubes of it into eggs with some green chiles and jack cheese.

 

Now I'm very happy to have a really good avocado plain: sliced, with salt and pepper and a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Alternate slices of juicy ripe tomatoes when in season. A good Hass is always good, and so is a Gwen. And there's another variety I love that is large, creamy, very pricey, with a long crook and whose name escapes me just now. Reed avocados can be good. Bacon avocados never seem quite ripe. Many varieties seem a little watery to me. There is an excellent vendor at the Berkeley farmers' market.

 

I have never eaten avocado toast. It just doesn't appeal. It seems, for lack of another word, stupid. The other way I don't like avocado is in Japanese sushi or rolls. Both treatments are ubiquitous here in CA. As for prices generally, it is amazing how, at least here,  they have exploded in the last five years. Probably partly the fault of avocado toast mania. 

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@David Ross  I don't  think they would absorb the brine.

 

@sartoric  I fought with thhe critters over mine. The squirrels especially would takee a nibble out of a rock hard one which then rotteed and never ripened. You don't want them to ripen on the tree. 

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Our neighbor's avocado tree overhangs our yard; yes we fight the squirrels for first dibs.  These are not Haas avocados, they are quite large (usually 3x the size of a Haas), yellow-green interior (more yellow than green) and very mild.  I adjust my usual guacamole recipe so the heat and chopped veggies do not overpower them 

 

I have never seen cooked avocados in Mexico, but avocado ice cream is not uncommon.  

 

The Haas avocados are common in stores here...right now there must be a fresh crop as I have seen many more wheelbarrows selling them around town in the past week.  Michoacan adjoins our state of Jalisco and is main growing area for Haas.  Produce hawked from trucks or in the streets often reflect a fresh harvest.  

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One of my favorites is boiled, peeled, chilled shrimp, kernels of barely-blanched fresh sweet corn, and chunks of avocado, tossed in a dressing made of a combo of cocktail sauce and mayo. And of course, big slabs of it o a BLT. Also makes a nice vegetarian sandwich on soft wheat bread with tomato, cream cheese and bean sprouts.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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One of my favorite restaurants on Cape Cod used to make a deep fried tempura avocado stuffed with spicy tuna.  It was soooo good.  I've been meaning to try and make it at home, so am printing out the instructions above.  Here is a picture of it.  My family was very sad when it came off the menu!

 

2147132366_macsptownavocado.thumb.jpg.b9bdd4cd075fe61ca087e360ca5dc8cb.jpg

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Yesterday I went to lunch with some new friends at The Press Cafe & Bistro in Yuma, Arizona. The place has been around a while, but this was my first visit. I ordered one of their pressed sandwiches, "The Picacho": hummus, artichoke, avocado, feta, tomato, red onion and baby greens pressed between hot focaccia. It was delicious, and more than I could reasonably eat. I brought half the sandwich home. 

 

20190304_082659.jpg

 

The remains begged to be reheated for breakfast. I got out my cast iron skillet, oiled and started heating it, and contemplated the sandwich. Most of the avocado had fallen out and been eaten during yesterday's lunch, so I added fresh slices to get the balance right.

 

20190304_102709.jpg

 

Breakfast was just as unwieldy and delicious as lunch was yesterday.

 

20190304_102117.jpg

 

The combination of ingredients was outstanding. I'm adding it to my list of sandwich variants.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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4 hours ago, liamsaunt said:

One of my favorite restaurants on Cape Cod used to make a deep fried tempura avocado stuffed with spicy tuna.  It was soooo good.  I've been meaning to try and make it at home, so am printing out the instructions above.  Here is a picture of it.  My family was very sad when it came off the menu!

 

2147132366_macsptownavocado.thumb.jpg.b9bdd4cd075fe61ca087e360ca5dc8cb.jpg

My gosh that's something.  It would be interesting to know the technique they used to coat it in the tempura batter and hold everything together during frying. It looks like lettuce was wrapped around the avocado?  And I might add looks delicious.

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