Not just for guacamole, avocados a versatile super food
Avocados give a creamy thickness to the Lemon Dressing Shrimp Salad at Koi in Evanston. | Joe Cyganowski~For Sun-Times Media
Lemon Dressing Shrimp Salad
4 tablespoons yellow onion, chopped
½ tomato (approximately ¼ cup), chopped
½ lime, juiced
½ lemon, juiced
1 ounce jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
One half of a fresh avocado, diced
2 pinches salt
Place ingredients in bowl and gently mix.
Place ingredients in blender, and add four tablespoons water.
Purée ingredients until smooth.
4 pieces cooked shrimp, cooked in boiled water for 1 minute
2 cucumber slices
3 grape tomatoes
2 ounces mixed greens, washed
3 tablespoons lemon dressing
Plate mixed greens.
Place cooked shrimp on mixed greens.
Drizzle with dressing.
Garnish with cucumber and grape tomatoes.
— From Kenny Tan, Koi restaurant
Updated: February 27, 2013 12:12PM
New recipes are pulling avocados out of their familiar guacamole bowl. From dressings for fish salads to a new take on french fries — you can tell your guac to take a walk.
Well, maybe just a short walk.
At Koi in Evanston, raw fish expert Kenny Tan is as knowledgeable about powerful ingredients as he is in using a sushi knife. Tan gives the dressing for his new shrimp salad a bright green color and creamy texture by including avocados in the blender with citrus juices and cilantro.
“The avocado makes the color of the dressing just beautiful,” Tan said.
And the savory avocado, which is sometimes called alligator pear for its shape and bumpy skin, provides a creamy texture that works as a thickening ingredient.
“The avocado is what binds all of the ingredients,” explained Koi Events Coordinator Joey Conway.
Tan gives the dressing a pop of spice by including another Mexican ingredient in the blender: thinly-sliced jalapeño peppers. The peppers work well against the milder flavors of the salad.
“The raw fish alone doesn’t always have that pack-a-punch flavor,” Conway said.
Two years ago, the team at Koi launched monthly eight-course sushi tasting dinners. The next event on March 5 will feature Tan’s Lemon Dressing Shrimp Salad as the first course. Tan will demonstrate that guacamole pairs especially well with sparkling sake. Zipang from Junmai will be served with the shrimp salad. Zipang is crisp, bright and bubbly with fruity, flowery notes that add a fitting sparkle to any first course.
Spicy tuna, miso scallops and dessert of sweet taro with tropical fruits will be among other bites that will comprise a tasting dinner on the lighter, healthier side.
Considered a “superfood,” avocado is high in nutrients such as magnesium, vitamin E and potassium.
“Avocados are a good source of fatty acids,” said Monique Ryan, a registered dietician and nutritionist who owns Personal Nutrition Designs in Evanston. “We need to get those into our diet, just like we need vitamins and minerals.”
Blending the nutritious fruit into favorite recipes is a good way to put nutrients into everything from savory soups or sauces to dessert frostings or mousses. Consider adding puréed avocadoes to basil pesto for creamier texture, for instance.
Baked avocados are another option. To make avocado “fries,” coat avocado slices with a mixture of a little oil, flour, salt, panko bread crumbs and an egg. Bake the slices in a 450 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, or until brown. Serve the fries with a chipotle pepper dip.
And avocados are certainly no strangers at the sushi bar. Fifty years ago, sushi was introduced in the U.S. at the storied Tokyo Kaikan restaurant in Los Angeles, where sushi chefs rolled out the first American version of sushi, the now beloved avocado-stuffed California Roll. Tokyo Kaikan has since closed, but its contributions to the sushi culture — including the fusion of Japanese and Mexican — are here to stay.
For Koi’s Sushi Chef Table tickets, see bit.ly/11DSUiD.