Chef Mario Hernandez uses a technique called nixtamalization to make an avocado “steak.” The Black Ant
Chef Mario Hernandez uses a technique called nixtamalization to make an avocado “steak.”

Avocado goes beyond toast and guacamole

The superfruit gets treated with unique techniques and carvings, and appears in even more cocktails

Avocado isn’t just for toast or guac anymore.

According to the latest research from Datassential MenuTrends, the fleshy fruit now appears on 45 percent of restaurant menus, with growth of 3 percent in the last year, 17 percent in the last four years, and 42 percent in the last decade. 

Avocado-loving chefs share how they serve the superfruit, as well as some of their preferred techniques, and even ideas for what to do with all those pits.

Unique techniques

•Mario Hernandez, chef partner of Ofrenda, Temerario and The Black Ant in New York City, is serving avocado “steak,” or aguacate asado. To create the dish, Hernandez uses a process called nixtamalization. The technique involves soaking avocado in a food-grade lime powder water solution for about 45 minutes to form a skin on the flesh, giving the avocado a more solid texture for grilling, roasting or searing, and sealing in the juices and flavor. “One afternoon, I was cooking corn for my tortillas and I threw a piece of avocado into the solution. Then I noticed it started getting firm and the flavor was great. Hence, an avocado steak was born,” Hernandez said.
Grilled avocado is key to the smokey guacamole at Taco Bamba, a taqueria with three locations in Northern Virginia. Chef Victor Albisu grills avocados until slightly burnt, then cools them before mixing in Roma tomatoes, jalapeño and serrano chiles, garlic, cilantro, red onion and lime. 
•Ricardo Camacho, executive chef of Añejo in New York City, likes to make guacamole balls. He rolls mashed avocado with jalapeño, onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt, and freezes them before coating them in flour and deep frying.
•At Eden Local in New York City, chef David Laris is serving housemade tofu and avocado ice cream (pictured at left). "Avocados are one of nature’s super food,” Laris said. “They are so easily accessible, understood and finally being recognized for what they are."

Cocktails go green

Avocado is trending hard on beverage menus, up 15 percent over the last year and more than 91 percent over the last four years, according to Datassential.

•At Bar Mezzana in Boston, bar director Ryan Lotz is mixing up Smoothie Moves, an avocado cocktail (pictured at left) made with avocado vodka, kale, lime and marash pepper, and served in a coupe glass rimmed with cayenne pepper and breadcrumbs. Lotz described the drink, which is available during brunch, dinner and at the bar every day, as a sort of boozy green juice with a kick.
•When his restaurant gives avocados, Luis Arce Mota, chef and owner of La Contenta and La Contenta Oeste in New York City, likes to make an avocado seed hot toddy. He starts by brewing a tea using the whole avocado seed, then adding agave and tequila. “It is a traditional [Mexican] remedy for an upset stomach, and happens to go well with tequila and agave,” Mota said. “It’s a really good sedative drink.”

Avo-carvers

Some chefs aren’t just cooking with avocado, they’re also making art out of it. A recent search for #avocado on Instagram returned more than 7 million posts, including chefs’ photos of their avocado carvings.

•Last February, chef Kylie Millar, who appeared on “MasterChef Australia” in 2012, carved an avocado half into hundreds of tiny squares, and then posted a photo of her “pixelated avo” on Instagram. The photo went viral, earning more than 24,000 likes to date.
Todd Ashworth, chef at Sidelines Sports Bar & Grill in Brunswick, Ohio, has been carving avocado seeds for few years. He got inspired to create his first seed art while at his previous gig as a chef at an assisted living facility, where he made a lot of guacamole burgers. “The pits can be made into all kinds of things," Ashworth said. "I’ve made chess pieces, buttons, beads, little mice and faces, turtles.” Unfortunately, Ashworth said he doesn’t use many avocados in his current position, but he still likes to carve seeds at home now and again. “I’m at a sports bar in Ohio,” he said. "Avocados aren’t really big.” Aspiring avo-carvers can find his how-to videos under the handle “Triclaw” on Instructables.com.

Correction: Jan. 25, 2018  An earlier version of this story misstated the availability of Bar Mezzana's avocado cocktail. It is available during brunch, dinner and at the bar every day. 

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