Something magical happens to the humble avocado when it is smashed together with a stick of butter, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, minced garlic and sea salt. Avocado Butter is what happens.
Over spring break, I conjured up my mother's recipe for Avocado Butter when faced with an unlikely problem: too much lobster. It was the last week of lobster season in the Caribbean, and fishermen were heading out in their small skiffs every day, coming home with buckets of lobster to buy for a pittance. We bought as much as we could carry, with all the cash in our pockets. How could we resist?
What to do with all this lobster? Steam of boil? Grill? Melted butter on the side? Then I remembered how my mom used to dress up seafood.
Shopping for supper is so stressful in the Bahamas.
My mother's signature party dish in the 1970s was swordfish that had been marinated in lemon juice, garlic, soy sauce and dijon mustard, then grilled and slathered with generous dollops of avocado butter. In those days, her dish was a bit avant garde, edgy even. Avocados had only recently made an appearance in the produce isle back then, in my secluded out-in-the-boonies upstate New York town.
Just about anything you throw on the grill is made better with a touch of avocado butter, from corn on the cob to chicken breasts to fish. So when faced with an abundance of lobster, enough for three consecutive nights of feasting, the Avocado Butter made its first appearance of the upcoming summer grilling season.
None of us are experts at cooking lobster (being from Wyoming and all). Luckily, a rare window of functioning wifi allowed us to consult the Hotline at Food52.com
. I knew someone there would know what to do.
Thus we steamed the lobsters for exactly 12 minutes (according to a Food52er), and they were perfectly pink, juicy and tender. We gave them the same treatment the next night, and on the third night we grilled. The avocado butter was especially well suited to seeping into the grilled lobsters' nooks and crannies.
Jon and Brian are serious about fishing, serious about steaming lobster.
Fishing from a stand-up paddle board helps you sneak up on fish.
Had we captured this lemon shark, the meaty steak would have been the perfect grilled fish for soaking up avocado butter. But sharks were afraid of my big white paddleboard, sneaking up on them like a big white fish.
We never got the chance to capture this little shark, and slather him with avocado butter.
Riis heads out into the wild blue to fish for dinner.
Slowly but surely, summer will be here, and the sky above the Tetons will be just as blue as the waters of the Caribbean. Well, almost as blue. And when that happens, you will want to grill everything in sight. Just keep my mom's Avocado Butter recipe tucked away, and the Lemon Soy Marinade too, and you will be ready for summer.
Nick waiting for the tide to recede so he can play beach soccer.
Perks of traveling with fishermen: obscenely abundant platters of sashimi.
For a printable version of the recipe, click on the file below it.
Avocado butter is perishable, as the avocado will turn brown when exposed to air. Tightly covered with plastic wrap, it will keep for several days. Extra avocado butter can be successfully frozen; just place plastic wrap in contact with the butter so it is not exposed to air.
Yields about 1 cup
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup ripe, mashed avocado (about 1 large Hass avocado)
- 5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley or cilantro (optional)
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. You can also mix by hand with a fork, but it may be more difficult to achieve a smooth butter texture.
- Refrigerate, with the top smoothed over with plastic wrap, until ready to use.
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Add some chopped cilantro if you like.
Lemon Soy Marinade
I love this marinade with skin-on bone-in chicken thighs, salmon steaks, and any firm, flaky fish.
Makes enough marinade for 6-8 serving
- 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- Whisk the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, and pour into a shallow glass dish.
- Place fish or chicken in a single layer and turn over, coating with the marinade.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and up to 6 hours.
- Shake off the marinade before grilling, and discard. Grill to perfection.
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Back to reality: gloomy clouds and chilly days, rain mixed with snow mixed with graupel. Springtime in the Tetons.