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Thursday, February 12, 2009
There are few foods that rival the utter joy of diving into a buttery, creamy avocado. It is both sinful (oh those calories...) and sublime. It is a study in contradictions in nature being both fruit and fat.
The ripe avocado is a bit of a diva. To enjoy one, it requires a little forethought and planning. Usually sold rock hard and too unripe to eat immediately, the avocado must be coaxed into ripening by sitting at room temperature on your kitchen counter for at least a day or two. An avocado at its peak, is utterly brilliant, but forget about it for an extra day or two and the avocado fades into a squishy, unpleasant mess. Even at its peak, this diva doesn’t travel well (she's a fragile little thing) and once exposed to air quickly turn an unappetizing brown. This diva waits for no one.
How do you know when an avocado is ripe?
Give it the slightest squeeze and if the flesh underneath the skin yields, it's ready to eat.
How to cut an avocado (safely)
To reveal an avocado’s fruit, work your way around the avocado with a sharp knife, its globe-like pit marks its center as illustrated below:
Once you have made your way around the avocado once, twist and gently pull apart one half from the other. Its bright yellow flesh is revealed. A ripe avocado is yielding but not mushy and mellow yellow that fades into a pale green the close you get to the skin. To remove the pit, lean your sharp knife into the pit, until the knife is wedged into it. Twist your knife slightly, and the pit should pop right out:
To cut the avocado into pieces, run your knife across the avocado in length wise, then cross-wise. To remove, take a large spoon and scoop out the flesh out:
Prepare an avocado only as you need it... It's beautiful yellow and green flesh quickly gives way to an unappetizing though edible brown.
Outside of guacamole, here is one thing I that really like to do with avocado:
Avocado milkshake: Perhaps it may seem unusual to see something normally associated with savoury food served as a sweet. But this is quite popular in Asia and your local Vietnamese restaurant probably has one on the menu. (I drank plenty of these while backpacking through Asia and there are few things as refreshing as that cold, creamy, green milkshake.) It is easily one of my favourite things to sip on in the summer. If you open your mind to trying it, I guarantee you won't be disappointed. It's velvety, creamy, sweet and distinctly avocado.
Traditionally avocado milkshakes are made with condensed milk. To make it with ingredients you already have on hand at home, take: 1 ripe avocado, 1.5 c milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add ice if you like it extra cold (reduce the milk.) Blend until smooth. Add additional milk to loosen, if necessary. Serve immediately. If you really want to do it local style, consider a shot of espresso (or Vietnamese coffee if you can get your hands on it.) This drink is really quite special.