I’m on a mission to get people to make and enjoy mussels at home. Mussels are sustainable, economical, and an effortless way to add drama and sophistication to any gathering. There’s no reason to save these for a special restaurant meal. These Vietnamese Mussels are read more
Welcome to another episode of OMG Air Fryers Are So Fun! I’m super late to the party; would you believe I held off on getting one all through quarantine?! I have been putting it through its paces the last few months though. And these Avocado Fries are one of my favorite creations. Crispy on the outside, creamy and buttery on the inside, with a zingy dipping sauce to bring them to another level. These are perfect for game day and also make a terrific starter, so let’s get into it.
First Make the Avocado Fries Sauce
This is such a delicious dipping sauce. It’s herby from the cilantro, a little spicy from fresh chilis, zingy from lime juice, and fish sauce balances it out with a pop of funk. (I adore cilantro, but if you absolutely hate it you can sub basil, dill, or flat leaf parsley.) If you have any extra sauce leftover, you can use it to dip chips, veggies, or wings. It’s also great with hearty salads, slathered on a burger, or as a condiment for simple grilled foods.
Make the Avocado Fries
I start making my avocado fries by quickly crisping up the panko bread crumbs. If you do a lot of oven frying or air frying, this trick will take your food to the next level. Because both cooking techniques rely on hot air, neither will get you the exact richness and evenly browned crust like oil frying. Sorry but it’s true. Air frying is awesome but it’s not the same. However, this trick will get you closer.
I find that it’s very difficult to get raw crumbs evenly browned in the air fryer. No amount of oil spray is quite enough. And no matter how long you cook the food, some parts will look delicious but others a little pale and pasty. By browning the crumbs in a little oil, you get a head start on the flavor and texture that will more closely mimic oil frying. Plus, you get an even toasty color in just a couple of minutes. And if you don’t have an air fryer, this is an excellent way to get all of your oven fried food extra delicious. So don’t just save it for these avocado fries, use it for chicken tenders, eggplant parmesan, or anywhere you need a golden crumb crust.
Once the crumbs are a nice golden color, transfer them to a bowl and season the crumbs. Now that the panko coating is ready, I prep the avocado fries. Large Florida avocados are great for this recipe; they make beautiful wedge fries. Try and get the largest avocados you can find at the market. It’s important that you use just soft avocados for this recipe. They will hold their shape and not fall apart as you dredge and cook the pieces. Save any mushy over ripe ones for guacamole or smoothies.
To avoid being disappointed, buy your avocados hard and let them ripen at home. Often the soft avocados at the store are over ripe or have brown spots. Like everything else at the store, they’re more expensive than they were before the pandemic, so you don’t want to have to throw out bad ones.
Cut the avocado into wedges and put them on a baking sheet. A little bit of trial and error led me to this version of dredging the fries. Avocados are delicate and too much handling will bruise and break them into bits. They like to be handled like babies! So putting them on a baking sheet and coating them this way keeps them intact. Once you finish one side, flip the wedges gently and repeat on the other side.
Spread the Kewpie mayonnaise thinly and gently press down on the panko mixture to make sure each wedge is completely covered. I like to use kewpie mayo because it has more flavor than American mayonnaise. Plus, it comes with a convenient squeeze tip. However, you can use whatever mayo you prefer. Spread it on as a thin layer, just enough to get the crumbs to adhere.
Now it’s time to fry these babies up! One of the reasons that avocados are not often cooked is because they can turn bitter with extended cooking. We try to ensure success by getting a head start on browning the crumbs. Then cook these avocado fries at a very high temperature for a short amount of time. The avocados only need to be heated. Nothing needs to be “cooked” since all of the parts are technically ready to eat.
If you don’t have an air fryer, you can also oven fry the avocado or just pan fry them in some oil. No matter how you cook them, in about 5 minutes these will be crispy flavor bombs, ready to wow your guests. Be careful when flipping them midway through the cooking so they don’t break.
As soon as they are golden brown, take them out and serve with the sauce.
These are perfect served as a starter for:
Or do what I’ve been doing lately and just make a batch for snacking. They won’t last long! Let me know what you think, take a second to comment on the recipe below, and tag us in our pics @funkyasiankitchen; we love hearing from you.
- 1 Florida or 2 Hass Avocados
- ⅓ cup kewpie mayonnaise
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- ½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon granulated onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Oil Spray
- 1 cup cilantro
- 3 scallions
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1–2 thai bird chiles minced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 Tablespoons fish sauce (use soy sauce for vegetarians)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
- ¼ cup neutral oil
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Put the breadcrumbs and the oil in a small skillet.
- Heat the pan over medium heat, moving the crumbs around the pan regularly with a spatula until they are golden brown, about 5 minutes.
- Put the panko in a bowl to cool.
- Add the granulated garlic, granulated onion, salt, and ground black pepper to the pan. Stir to combine.
- Cut the avocado(s) in half and remove the seed. Cut each half into thin wedges about ⅓ inch thick. Set the avocado wedges on a rimmed baking sheet
- Squeeze a line (about ¼ teaspoon) of kewpie mayonnaise onto the wedges. Use a spatula to spread the mayonnaise evenly.
- Pour a little of the breadcrumbs onto each wedge and use your fingers to press gently on the wedges to adhere the breadcrumbs.
- Flip the avocado and repeat with the mayonnaise and the breadcrumbs, making sure you have completely covered the wedges with the breadcrumb coating.
- Set the wedges into the air fryer, spray lightly with some oil, and cook on 400 degrees heat for 5-6 minutes. Gently flip the avocado halfway through the cooking time.
- Serve the avocado fries immediately with the sauce on the side.
Make the sauce:
- Roughly chop the cilantro and scallions and add it to a tall cup.
- Add the lime juice, thai bird chiles, garlic, fish sauce, sugar, mayonnaise, oil, and ground black pepper.
- Blend with an immersion blender stick until you have a thick pureed sauce.
- Set aside or refrigerate until ready to use.
*If you don’t have an air fryer, you can also oven fry or pan fry the avocado in a skillet. For oven frying, set the oven to 425 and move the shelf to the middle of the oven. Put the avocado fries on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Spray lightly with oil, place the baking sheet in the oven, and cook for 5-6 minutes. If you plan on pan-frying, heat a skillet oven medium heat for several minutes. Add a couple tablespoons of oil and cook the fries for a couple minutes on each side, making sure to flip gently to keep the avocado from breaking.
Keywords: avocado, air fryer, snacks, fried, cilantro, dipping sauce, panko, japanese, game night
As the weather finally starts to cool down a bit, we can look forward to spending time in the kitchen again and working on some comfort foods. This Stuffed Cabbage dish is a great project to tackle this weekend. Like Hambagu and Corn Potage, this is a Japanese homage to a classic westernized dish. It feeds a crowd, it’s tender and juicy, it’s make ahead, and it freezes beautifully; so let’s get into it!
What Makes this Japanese Stuffed Cabbage? It’s All About the Cabbage
This recipe is different from the European style stuffed cabbage that you may have had. It has a lighter feel to it, largely owing to using a more delicate green cabbage. Today we’re using Taiwanese cabbage which may be new to you. I think that one of the reasons why we Americans don’t eat more cabbage is because it’s so coarse and hard to chew. So it’s no surprise that the most common way to eat it is to slather it with a heavy creamy sauce in coleslaw, to mask some of that unpleasantness.
But Taiwanese cabbage is different, really. It looks like a flattened disk and it has leaves that are larger, sweeter, and more tender than the sturdy leaves in regular green cabbage. Raw cabbage is very popular in Japan and it’s often used in salads and as a garnish for fried foods. It’s believed that cabbage helps in the digestion of fatty foods, so you will see copious amounts of it being consumed at Ton Katsu (breaded fried pork) restaurants. You can find Taiwanese cabbage at most Asian grocery stores. Look for a large head because those leaves will make the rolling process much easier.
If you cannot find Taiwanese cabbage, you can use regular green cabbage. The best are large but light heads, which means you will not have densely packed leaves. Peeling off the leaves can be a nightmare if you have a very tight compact ball. Another option is to use napa cabbage, which will yield a slightly different, but incredibly delicious alternative.
Making the Stuffed Cabbage Filling
I start by finely mincing the veggies. It’s really important in any ground meat mixture, whether it’s meatloaf, meatballs, or stuffing, that the veggies be as small as possible. This way they incorporate more easily and fully with the meat and you don’t have chunks of veg falling out of the filling. Plus, it just has a better mouth feel where it tastes like beautifully seasoned meat, and not like a bunch of vegetables thrown in.
Now I know what you’re thinking…I’m just going to whip out the food processor and bang this out in no time. That would be a hard NO! The food processor will chop up your veggies yes, but it will also mash them and you will end up with a wet mess. So actually, now’s the time to whip out your knife and work on those knife skills! It does take a little more time, but you will be well rewarded.
Keep chopping and adding the veggies to a large bowl. Then we add some soy sauce and panko into the mix to give it a decidedly Eastern flair. Give the veggies a thorough mix before adding the meats. I like to add minced bacon because the rich and smoky flavor plus the added fat give the filling a lushness that’s so delicious.
The easiest way to mix everything together is to use your hands. Ground meat is wet and heavy so your hand is the best tool.
When all the little bits of veggies and bacon are thoroughly dispersed through the meat, put the filling aside.
Prep the Cabbage
Once you core the cabbage, pull off the leaves slowly and carefully, loosening them with your fingers first. Once you get to the center and the cabbage is the size of your fist, stop. I usually cut the remaining small head in half and tuck it into my pan with the cabbage rolls.
Stuff the Cabbage
Start by separating the cabbage leaves into two piles, larger and smaller. The meat filling will be wrapped twice, first with the smaller leaf and then with the larger leaf.
Repeat with the rest of the leaves and filling. You should have about a dozen or so rolls when you’re done. (If you have leftover filling and not enough leaves, form it into meatballs and cook along with the stuffed cabbage.) Place the rolls seam side down in a large skillet as you go.
Make the Stuffed Cabbage Sauce
All that’s left to do at this point is to whip up the sauce and cook the stuffed cabbage. This sauce is what I would call brothy. If you’ve had stuffed cabbage before, this will be lighter and probably less sweet than you’re used to tasting. You can use canned tomato puree, diced tomatoes, or whole tomatoes for the sauce-whatever you have on hand is fine.
If using whole or diced tomatoes, first puree them.
As you can see in my photo, I have an extra meatball and the leftover baby cabbage head in the pan. You too should feel free to add any leftovers to cook together.
Cooking this dish is very simple. Cover the pan and bring it to a simmer. Then lower the heat and cook for 40 minutes until the cabbage rolls are tender and the sauce slightly reduced.
This braised dish is so comforting on an autumn evening, you have to try it. Yes, it’s a bit labor intensive but the results are well worth it. Any leftovers freeze beautifully. Let me know what you think of this Japanese style Stuffed Cabbage. Leave a comment and tag us in your pics @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- 1 head green cabbage (preferably Taiwanese- pick a large head)
- 1 pound ground beef (bison or lamb are also great options)
- ½ large onion
- 1 carrot
- 2 ribs celery
- 3 slices bacon
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 14 ounce can tomato puree or 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 3 Tablespoons ketchup
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
- Peel the onion. Slice it into thin strips and then across the strips into a small dice. Chop the diced onions until they are a fine mince. Add it to a large bowl.
- Peel the carrots and celery and do the same, mincing them fine, and adding them to the bowl.
- Add the garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, soy sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir with a fork to combine.
- Cut the bacon into very fine strips and again into a fine dice. Add the bacon and the ground beef to the bowl.
- Using clean hands, combine the ingredients, making sure the veggies are evenly dispersed throughout the mixture.
- Set aside the meat filling.
- Using a small paring knife, core the center of the cabbage and discard. Gently loosen the leaves from the base and peel off the leaves until they look too small to use (If the leaves are smaller than the palm of your hand, stop peeling).
- Set up a bowl with ice water and put it next to the stove. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium high heat. Add 5-6 cabbage leaves to the pot, gently submerging them under the boiling water with tongs or a spatula.
- Boil the leaves for 2 minutes and then transfer to the ice water for a minute to cool. Remove the leaves from the ice water and drain well.
- Keep boiling and cooling the cabbage until you have cooked all of the loose leaves.
- Place the drained cabbage on a cutting board and remove the fibrous center rib by cutting a skinny upside down “V” into the bottom of the cabbage leaf .
- Sort the cabbage leaves into a pile with smaller cabbage leaves and a pile of bigger cabbage leaves.
- Scoop a generous ¼ cup (you can also use a measuring cup) of the meat filling onto one of the smaller leaves. Fold the right side of the cabbage leaf over the filling and then fold the other side over the filling, trying to cover as much of the meat filling as you can. Roll to the end of the leaf.
- Take a bigger leaf and put the wrapped package seam side down. Again fold over one side and then the other, trying to cover the package evenly. Having the entire package double wrapped is ideal.
- Place the cabbage packet in a large 12” deep skillet, seam side down, and continue making packages. You should yield 12-13.
- Combine the tomato puree with the chicken stock, ketchup, sugar, and ground black pepper. Stir to dissolve the sugar. (If using diced tomatoes, empty the can of diced tomatoes, including the juice, and blend them until smooth first). Taste the sauce (canned tomato products and purchased chicken stock can have varying levels of saltiness) and add the salt if needed, adjusting the seasonings to suit your taste.
- Pour the sauce over the cabbage packets and tuck in the bay leaf so it’s submerged.
- Put a lid over the pan and bring the contents of the pan to a simmer over high heat.
- Lower the heat to medium, crack the lid open a little, and simmer for 40 minutes.
- Transfer the stuffed cabbage to a deep platter with plenty of the sauce. Serve immediately.
*If you run out of leaves, you can make meatballs and tuck them into the pan with the cabbage packages. Likewise, the ball of cabbage you have left after pulling off the usable leaves can be cut in half or into quarters if it’s kind of big. Tuck the cabbage into the pan as well and cook together with the packets.
*This dish can be made ahead and reheated the next day. It also freezes well.
Keywords: stuffed cabbage, dinner, beef, bacon, japanese