braised chicken with forty cloves of garlic roasted broccoli and farro salad with feta sparkling champagne margaritas cranberry hazelnut seed crisps


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things you pick up in bars

Technique: avocado slices

Spring did not forsake us! We started the vernal equinox in Vail with 11°F and light snow at the base of the mountain. There was even some powder to be had. Praise be.


jeremy is thrilled to find freshies

frosted trees



I was thankful for the cooler temperatures (which are actually NORMAL this time of year) not just for the skiing, but because I needed to keep the house cool while I did a chocolate shoot this week. One of the marshmallow-filled chocolate bears sprung a leak due to my elevation and some marshmallow began to ooze out of its head, which gave me an idea…

cue the law and order clang



The windows were opened to let the 20 degree coolness drift through my work area. Kaweah observed my shenanigans from the warmth of her blankie, making the occasional rounds and sniffing all of the tables piled with chocolate and other edible props. At the end of the day, we admired the last rays of light from the deck. Actually, I admired the last rays of light and Kaweah watched all of the foxes on their evening commute through our yard.

lazy day for one of us

the end of another day in paradise



Now, I rarely do requests on urb because I’m not made of spare time. However, my last post on the California roll burger sparked interest regarding how I sliced the avocado. It’s a technique worth sharing. I’ve been to a bar maybe twice in my life, but I’ve been to a sushi bar about a gazillion times. I prefer to sit at the bar, talk with the sushi chef(s), and watch how they prepare sushi – including how they slice avocados to make caterpillar or dragon rolls.

an avocado, a santoku knife, and a ceramic knife

slice the avocado in half

twist the halves in opposite directions



First start with a ripe avocado, because underripe avocados are gross. It shouldn’t be mushy, it should just yield under the slight pressure of your finger. [If you are trying to ripen an avocado quickly, your best bet is to plop it into a paper bag with a couple of oranges, roll the bag shut, and let it sit on the counter for a day.] Hold the avocado in your hand and cut it in half lengthwise, running the blade around the pit without cutting through the pit. Set the knife down, cup your palms around the avocado halves and twist them in opposite directions.

sink the heel of the knife into the pit

twist the pit loose



Not all knives have a good sharp corner at the bottom of the heel. This won’t work unless you have one, but please please please be careful. Make it a quick, but short strike that sinks into the pit a quarter inch rather than cutting through the pit, the avocado, and into your hand. Once the knife is lodged into the pit, give it a twist and the pit should come free. Discard the avocado pit.

peel the halves

slice horizontally



Peel the skin away from both halves of the avocado. Here is where I switch knives to my thinnest blade – my ceramic knife. The santoku works, but I have less control on the thinness of the slices. Place the avocado half flat-side down on a cutting board. Carefully begin making horizontal slices at the top, keeping the knife flat and even as you cut across. A perfectly ripe avocado should be able to produce relatively thin slices. The closer the avocado is to being overripe, the harder it will be to work with thin slices. Repeat until you reach the bottom of the avocado half. Arrange your slices as you cut. If you try to peel them apart later, the thinner the slices, the more likely they will stick to one another and break. I like to fan them out for presentation or layer them across for wrapping around sushi rolls or stacking in sandwiches.

here ya go, home slice


22 nibbles at “things you pick up in bars”

  1. Stephanie says:

    that bear picture is hilarious, but I have to ask: did you just randomly have a tiny toy gun on hand???

  2. Kristin says:

    Gorgeous, and so much better for sandwiches than the wedges I do. Why is it that things seem so obvious once we see them? Thanks for sharing!

  3. Helen says:

    Thanks! I noticed those in your burger post and was intrigued.

  4. Melissa | Dash of East says:

    Oh, thank you for doing this post. I am absolutely horrible at slicing avocados. Will be using this post as a practice guide :)

  5. Kristen says:

    I come here for the amazing photos, food and prose, but I have to say that Kaweah has captured my heart from the very beginning. I think I’ve said this before but I’m a sucker for older dogs and she reminds me of my past dog, Buddy. I always look forward to seeing shots of Kaweah in your posts! The one of her cuddled beneath the blanket is no exception.

  6. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    Mmm this is pure buttery deliciousness.

  7. Bridget says:

    I used to wonder how you did that too, until there were no open tables at our favorite sushi restaurant and we sat at the bar. :)

  8. Esther says:

    Thank you, this was very helpful :) Just in time for burger season.

  9. ARC says:

    I have really bad luck with avocados. I buy them at trader joe’s, then stick them in the fridge and inevitably they’re either overripe or not ripe enough when I need them :( I can’t ever figure out the right time to use them.

    But those slices are gorgeous. I’m a bit afraid of the knife-pit trick, though…

  10. Rob P. says:

    I have a friend who had to rehab her hand after slicing a couple of tendons pitting an avocado. If you want to avoid the possibility of that altogether, a butter knife is enough to bite into the pit so you can twist it out, without being sharp enough to injure yourself.

  11. salena says:

    those avocado slices are beautiful! I love Kaweah with her chin on the hedgehog. My cats do that with a stuffed mouse. I bought a ceramic knife after you mentioned them on your blog a while back, and it remains my favorite kitchen purchase ever.

  12. Linda says:

    Your pictures, recipes and Kaweah…….oh, yeah, you and Jeremy, too, never disappoint. I thought I was good at cutting and pitting an avocado, living in extreme southern California as I do, but I’ve learned something from you tonight. I never peel and cut them, just slice and scoop out of the shell, but I am going to try your method. I will be sending my avocados to you to ripen for me, okay? 8-)

    xo Linda

  13. Charlie says:

    Hi!

    Here I thought this post was going to be about the Chocolate Marshmallow Bears!

    Thanks so much for the tips on the avocado.

    I think I may like these slices better than the chunks.

    Enjoy your snow, while you can!

    Charlie

  14. Jessica says:

    I just found your blog a couple weeks ago. You are one amazing lady. I made your Pad Thai and Chicken Tika, they were both so delicious! Thank you for what you do.

  15. Tony says:

    brilliant! Thanks for sharing :)

  16. Sherry says:

    My first thought was also about the tiny toy gun. That thing is really small! Where on earth do you even find something like that?

  17. farmerpam says:

    Loving the chocolate bear photo. :)

  18. Katie says:

    Ooh beautiful slices!! I have toyed with lots of ways of cutting avocados since I became addicted to them a couple years ago but this takes the cake. Now to get a ceramic knife…

  19. Margie says:

    sweet pup! She always steals the show. ;)

    I love that photo of the bear ‘shooting’….It took me reading Stephanie’s comment for me to notice the gun and the chalk line. I was anxious to get to the carving of the avocado.

  20. jenyu says:

    Stephanie – I got the toy gun with an action figure :)

    Kristin – I don’t know. I used to slice in wedges too and had my avocado slide all over the place in my sandwiches ;)

    Kristen – aww, so sweet of you! She’s definitely got her own following among the readership. Sometimes when I haven’t posted a photo of her in a while, I start to get emails from readers asking if everything is okay with her.

    Bridget – yep! I like sitting at the sushi bar. I learn all my sushi tricks there ;)

    ARC – I put them in the fridge when I want to SLOW their ripening. If you want them to ripen quickly, I suggest placing them in a brown paper bag with an orange or a banana, closing the bag, and letting it sit on your kitchen counter for a day or two.

    salena – I think it’s my favorite knife too (that and the santoku)

    Linda – um, YES! We’d be HAPPY to ripen your avocados for you!! :) That’s one of the things I miss about living in So Cal.

    Charlie – we’re trying :)

    Jessica – you’re such a dear, thanks!

    Tony – for you, anything :) xo

    Sherry – Marvel Comics Winter Soldier action figure.

    Katie – you don’t have to have a ceramic knife to cut the avocado – a good, sharp, thin blade works. But… if you DO get a ceramic knife, I think you will fall in love. Just beware that ceramic knives are brittle. You can’t drop them, can’t put things on top of them, can’t twist them, use them on bone or frozen items – you have to take care of it like it’s your baby :) But they are totally worth it.

  21. gkstr says:

    Looks like this tumblog has used the last image in this post: http://c-o-a-s-t-i-n.tumblr.com/post/20024061997

  22. jenyu says:

    gkstr – thanks. people do this ALL the time :\

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