One of the best parts of Whole Foods is the $4 bags of avocados. The caveat is that they all ripen at the exact same time. I found myself today with two avocados perilously close to overripe, which is just plain unacceptable.
Shravan’s friend Eric, a fashion photographer who is chronicling everything he eats for a year, mentioned recently that he had photographed Marcus Samuelsson for the NYT, and found him both engaging and interesting. I was inspired to flip again through Sameulsson’s African cookbook, “The Soul of a New Cuisine,” for a suitable avocado recipe.
I found a promising soup with grilled tilapia, a kitchen staple in the Vidyarthi household (as anyone who has come back to 349 Union for late-night food can attest… Randy). Why have I never fried avocados with lime and spices before? Genius!
Anything with that much chili and spice HAD to be good. This proved true enough, though I fell victim to my own enthusiasm and way overdid it on the chilies (in true Shravan fashion). I also cooked the soup longer to intensify the flavors until it essentially became a tangy, spicy salsa, which balanced beautifully with the mellow tilapia and creamy avocado.
I’ve reprinted the recipe below as it appears in the cookbook, for people to tweak their own flavors. Personally, I upped the cilantro and avocado, and sprinkled fried corn tortilla strips over the top to add some crunch.
Grilled Tilapia-Avocado Soup
1/4 cup plus 2 T. olive oil
1 T. chopped cilantro
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 t. Green Curry Paste (below)
Four 4-ounce Tilapia fillets
3 ripe but still firm avocados, pitted, peeled and quartered
4 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, seeds removed, finely chopped
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups white wine
2 cups chopped canned tomatoes (or 4 fresh)
1 t. salt
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
Combine 2 T. of the olive oil, juice of one lime, 2 t. chopped cilantro, 2 garlic cloves, and 1 t. of the curry paste in a blender and puree. Brush the puree over the tilapia and avocados.
Heat 2 T. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the sliced garlic, chilies, onions and sautee until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and white wine, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the remaining lime juice and cilantro, salt, black beans, and simmer gently for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in another two small nonstick sautee pans over high heat. In one, add the avocados and cook, turning once, about 3 minutes per side. In the other, cook the tilapia until just opaque, about 6 minutes. Cut both tilapia and avocado into one-inch piees.
To serve, divide tilapia and avocado among shallow soup bowls and pour in soup. Serves 2-4.
Green Curry Paste
10 birds eye chilis or 6 habanero chilies, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, tender inner part only, finely chopped
Finely grated zest of 2 limes
1 large red onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably fresh ground
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3 in. ginger, peeled and grated
2 T. peanut oil
2 t. salt
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and puree to a chunky paste. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.