After a rousing David Byrne set at the Austin City Limits Festival last fall, my friends and I were famished after all the dancing and singing. With an hour before our next set, we made our way to the food stands to replenish our energy.
On site were a host of Austin-based vendors representing the town’s eclectic array of cuisine, with everything from kimchi fries to barbecue. One dish, however, caught our eyes and that was Trudy’s fried avocados. One friend had never had tried fried avocados and while hesitant, she was curious as to their nature, so we ordered some to share.
Now, I understood her uncertainty. Indeed, the first time I had fried avocados, I was dubious myself. I wasn’t sure how the soft avocado flesh would take to being cooked in hot oil, but once I took a bite, I realized that the crisp crunch of the breading paired with the tender fruit was addictively good. I was hooked.
Fried avocados are not a traditional dish in the Tex-Mex canon, as they didn’t start appearing on Texas menus until the early 2000s and the earliest published recipes, which date back to the 1940s, hail from New York and California. That said, as the cuisine evolves, you do encounter them more often. And they definitely makes a nice change of pace, especially for those who are abstaining from meat, as the rich avocado gains heft with its fried shell, which makes for a hearty filling.
These days in Texas, you see fried avocados in various shapes and forms. For instance, some places take an avocado half, stuff it with meat and cheese, bread it, fry it, and turn it into a total flavor bomb. Then others, such as that Trudy’s stand at the Austin City Limits festival, take smashed avocados and form patties, and adding crunch they fry them much like crab cakes. Those work, too.
The ones I return to most, however, are the fried avocado wedges (or fries, as some places refer to them). Unlike the other styles, these make a good finger food, so they can be served with queso or ranch for dipping. Though their slender width also makes them a fine companion for tortillas in the form of a taco, which is how I like them best.
In the past, this dish was something that I relegated to restaurant-only status, but as I was doing research I saw a few methods that made the process seem like it would be a cinch. With avocados on sale, I stocked up on them along with eggs, flour, panko bread crumbs, and oil, and got to work.
Not surprisingly, the soft avocado is a good foundation for the coating. So, after dredging the wedges in flour and eggs, they’re then dipped into the panko crumbs before frying. They cook fast and were finished in no time. Indeed, I was surprised at how easy it was. While I usually wouldn’t have made a fried dish on a weeknight, these are so simple to prepare that if one wanted to dedicate a half hour to the process, it can easily be done, too.
For the tacos, I used flour tortillas as the base (though corn would be good, too) and then stuffed them with the fried avocados along with a smear of refried beans, pico de gallo, and Cotija cheese. A drizzle of buttermilk dressing made for a fine finish. I took a bite and they were as wonderful as any I’d ordered out before. Fried avocado taco perfection had been achieved and once again, I was hooked.
Fried avocado tacos
For the fried avocados:
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- Pinch cayenne
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups panko crumbs
- 2 large avocados peeled pitted, and cut into 8 slices, lengthwise
- Oil for frying
- Stir together in a bowl the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne. Beat the eggs in another bowl, then place half of the panko crumbs on a plate. Place another large plate off to the side for the battered avocados.
- To batter the avocado slices, start by dredging in the flour, then dip into the egg, shaking off any excess, then dip into the panko, covering on all sides. Place the battered avocado slice on the plate, and working in batches, continue battering each, refreshing the panko crumbs with fresh ones as needed. (They can get kind of clumpy as you go along.)
- Pour 1/2 inch of oil in a large cast-iron skillet and heat on medium high to 350°F, about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature by sticking a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles around the spoon, it should be ready for frying. Line a large plate or sheet pan with paper towels.
Working in batches, slide the battered avocados into the hot oil. Cook on one side for 20 seconds or until the coating is lightly browned, then flip them over and cook for another 20 seconds or until lightly browned. Remove to the prepared plate with a slotted spatula and repeat until all have been fried.
- To assemble the tacos, warm the beans and tortillas. Spread each tortilla with a couple of tablespoons of beans, then layer on top two slices of fried avocados, the pico de gallo, and Cotija cheese. Serve with the buttermilk dressing on the side for either drizzling or dipping.