I call these avocado bites, others call them avocado fries. I avoid the term fries because the pear-shaped avocado, with its golf-ball sized center pit (which in reality is a seed that can be planted to grow an avocado tree) is next to impossible to cut into classic, uniformly-sized, square-tipped French-fry-shaped sticks without a lot of waste. Plus, you know the drill, once you remove the buttery-rich fruit from its thick, protective skin, you have no time to play around -- once exposed to air, the green starts turning gray with every tick of the clock. The easily-sliced fruit consists of rounded ends and some half-moon shaped pieces -- nothing that looks like a French fry to me. Bites is a better word all the way around -- that's my story and I'm sticking to it.
Lots of other people make these snacks. Everyone coats them in a breading or dips them in a batter of some sort. Some folks bake them in the oven, others fry them in a skillet. I do neither because I am a fearless fryer. I go full-crank with this recipe for this superfood and deep-fry them in peanut oil for optimum results: a super-crunchy outside and a super-creamy inside. Deep-frying is hands-down the best method -- that's my story and I'm sticking to that one too.
Start by preparing ~ A Versatile Tex-Mex Condiment: Chile-Lime Mayo ~. Do this several hours or a day ahead, to give it time to thicken. In a food processor fitted with steel blade, process until smooth:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 8-ounce jar sliced, pickled jalapenos, well-drained
1 large lime, all of its zest and 1 tablespoon of its juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
The right avocado, the wrong avocado and the right ripeness for the right avocado!
Trust me when I tell you, after a taste test between the dark green, bumpy-skinned California Hass (which rhymes with pass) and any other smooth-skinned variety (like Florida's bright-green Fuerte), you will agree there is no comparison in either flavor or texture. Hass wins. Do not use the smooth-skinned, somewhat watery-tasting avocados in this recipe (or any others either).
Avocados ripen after picking, and, a perfectly-ripe Hass avocado will be firm to the touch with an ever-so- slight give when gentle pressure is applied. If it seems even the slightest bit soft, it is over-ripe. When a knife is run throgh and around the perimeter of a perfectly ripe avocado, it will literally cut like butter and the two halves will separate cleanly with a gentle twist. If your avocados are under-ripe (hard), to speed up the ripening process, place them in a paper bag and set aside, at room temperature overnight, or, for 1-2 days.
An avocado tastes best when it is perfectly ripe, and cooking them will not enhance the flavor. For that reason, use perfectly-ripe avocados for this recipe, not slightly under-ripe ones, which some folks are inclined to use, which I've seen others recommend -- usually in recipes using the oven or the skillet. You see, if you deep-fry like me, the 3 minutes in the fryer is just enough to cook the coating without affecting the texture of the perfectly-ripe, tender avocado inside!
Cutting board, chef's knife, tablespoon, fork and 2-3 ripe Hass avocados.
One shallow 2-cup bowl containing 1 cup dry pancake mix.
One shallow 2-cup bowl containing 1 cup pancake mix whisked with 1 cup beer.
One shallow 2-cup bowl containing 2 cups panko breadcrumbs.
Deep-fryer w/peanut oil heated to 350 degrees according to manufacturer's specifications.
Misc: 3-minute timer, tongs, cooling rack, paper towels, sea salt grinder.
~ Step 1. When everything is measured, in place and the deep-fryer is heating, whisk together the pancake mix and beer. Set aside, for about 5 minutes, before starting the frying process. This will give the batter time to thicken to a drizzly consistency. If at any point during the frying process (even at the outset), if the batter seems or gets too thick, whisk in a little more beer to maintain the drizzly consistency.
~ Step 2. To prep the avocados, one-at a time, slice the avocados in half and twist to separate the halves. Holding the pitted side in one hand, give the pit a somewhat forceful tap with the center of the knife blade. Then, with one gentle twist of the knife, voila: the pit is out.
Using an ordinary tablespoon, working your way around the perimeter, loosen the fruit from the skin. Scoop each half out onto the cutting board and slice into 4 stubby lengths. Ok, from this angle, they look a bit like fries.
~ Step 3. Working four strips (1/2 an avocado) at a time (using a fork to maneuver, not to poke), dredge each piece in the dry pancake mix, dip it in the wet batter, gently lift it out, allowing excess batter to drizzle back down into the bowl, and lastly, roll it around in the panko to coat it on all sides.
While four are frying, dredge, dip and roll the next four. Using a pair of tongs, remove avocado bites from oil, transfer to a cooling rack with a paper towel placed on top of it and immediately sprinkle with a fresh grinding of sea salt. Continue this assembly-line process until all pieces are fried.
Serve hot, warm or room temp...
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; ordinary tablespoon; fork; 3, shallow 2-cup size bowls; deep-fryer; 3-minute timer; tongs; paper towels
Cook's Note: My ~ Crunchy Thai-Style Deep-Fried Coconut Shrimp ~ are not Tex-Mex, but, contain a lot of the same flavors, and, get batter dipped & fried in the same manner. They're a perfect partner to avocado bites. Click into Categories 1, 11, 13 or 14 to get the recipe!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)