Cook This Now: Deep Fried Avocado Tacos

You won't miss the meat with these fried avocado tacos. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Remember a couple years back when everybody and their mother's blog started declaring fried avocados to be the culinary equivalent of a joint Beatles reunion and Led Zeppelin tour—but then we slowly started to realize that actually, fried avocados aren't really that tasty after all?

Good. I'm glad we're all on the same page here. See, the reason fried avocados don't taste particularly fantastic—and the reason we never did a fried avocado recipe on this site in the past—is that an avocado's main selling point is its buttery, creamy texture, and that's a texture that is at its best when served at room temperature.

What happens when you heat an avocado up? It goes from being creamy to overly soft. Moreover, because hot foods are easier for us to taste, heating an avocado only serves to remind us of how bland they actually are.

Fortunately, there are ways to fix some of those problems. While I still wouldn't serve plain old fried avocado wedges to guests or loved ones, they can admittedly be pretty darned fantastic when tucked into soft corn tortillas with plenty of texture and flavor-enhancing fixings.

Provided you fry 'em right, of course.

Batter Up

Most fried avocado recipes fall under one of two categories: coated in panko-style breadcrumbs, or dipped in a batter. The latter is the way to go with avocado, giving you a lighter, crisper crust. The key to a good light crust is to combine both regular flour and corn starch as the base. This produces a batter that has minimal gluten formation, allowing it to crisp up without turning leathery or too tough.

Instead of regular water or soda water, I use beer, which offers a few advantages. First, its carbonation adds lift to the batter, causing it to puff up and lighten as it fries (a pinch of baking powder helps in this regard as well). Second, the alcohol content also increases the airiness of the batter, as alcohol will evaporate more violently and at a lower temperature than plain water. Finally, it adds a bit of extra flavor (though you should use a very mild-flavored beer: stronger beers can be distracting).

I mix the batter up with a pair of chopsticks or a whisk just until it comes together. Remember: we want to minimized gluten formation here, so it's ok if there are still lumps and big bubbles.

Before adding the avocado slices, it's imperative that you thoroughly season them with salt and pepper. Avocados are bland by nature. Salt and pepper will help bring out what little flavor they have.

I've said this dozens of times before, but I have no problem saying it again: the wok is the best vessel for deep frying. Not only do its slanted sides keep oil from splattering out onto your stovetop, but its flared shape prevents boil-overs and makes maneuvering food around the hot oil a snap. Deep frying is also the best way to season your wok to make it nice and non-stick for future stir-fries, so it's win-win all around.

When lowering your avocado slices into the oil, remember to be gentle and lower them in until your fingers are nearly touching the hot oil. Dropping them from a height will only cause that oil to splash!

As they fry, I continuously move them around and agitate the oil so that any hot or cool pockets that have built up will be evened out. It also ensures that hot oil gets into every nook and cranny so you aren't left with any undercooked bits.

As soon as the avocado slices come out of the fryer, your only priority should be to get them draining on a paper towel and season them with more salt immediately while there is still enough hot oil on their surfaces for the salt to cling really well.

Once that mission is accomplished, don't slow down! Your next goal is to get them into their warm cradles as soon as possible.

Assembly

Start by pulling out a stack of two warm corn tortillas and spreading them with a little salsa verde (you did remember to have that stack of properly-warmed corn tortillas at the ready, right?).

Next up: a layer of very finely shredded cabbage which will add some much needed crunch to counteract all that soft (ok, mushy) warm avocado.

Then the avocado slices...

...followed by a good dollop of chipotle cream, one of my favorite (and most flavor-packed) condiments.

Sliced Serrano chilies give it some heat (you can leave them off if you're too wimpy—that chipotle cream should add plenty of heat on its own).

I finish it off with some quick-pickled red onions, another go-to condiment that I hide from my wife (lest they all disappear in a day).

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Even I've got to admit that the end results are pretty damned fantastic, and that the fried avocados actually do add a richness that no other ingredient would provide.

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Ready for a bite?

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Open wide!