Hawaiian Ahi Poke with Avocado

My husband grew up in Hawaii on the Big Island in Kona. We are blessed that his parents still live there and we get to visit occasionally. The best part is we get all the ins and outs of where the locals like to go – the best beaches, the best hikes, the best restaurants. With three kids, going to restaurants is pretty darn impossible. So we tried the Lava Lava Club, which is a restaurant and bar that opens to an array of tables spilling out on the beach. So we could sit and have pupus (Hawaiian for appetizers) and cocktails while the kids played in the sand and water right in front of us. It was perfect.


They served an exquisite Ahi poke with… avocados! Poke is a traditional Hawaiian dish consisting of raw salad served as a pupu. Poke can be made with any raw fish, but usually it’s made with Ahi (yellowfin tuna). I actually had not had poke with avocado before, but of course, it was delish. Below is a recipe adapted from several different ones from local cookbooks. None of them called for avocado, so I added it. The Lava Lava Club served the poke with fresh seaweed salad and sweet potato chips. Seaweed salad is available all over here, but it’s a little harder to find in the mainland if you don’t have a good Asian market nearby. I have found pretty good seaweed salad at Costco if you don’t mind getting a ton of it. In Hawaii, the sweet potatoes are purple. I have not seen them in stores on the mainland, but I am sure some specialty food shops somewhere must have them. If you can’t find them, substitute good ol’ orange sweet potatoes.

IMG_5596-001Ahi Poke with Avocado
Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons ginger, grated

1/2 cup shoyu

2 pounds Ahi (yellowfin tuna)

1/2 cup green onions

2 Hass avocados

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon pink Hawaiian sea salt

Fresh seaweed salad

1 Hawaiian sweet potato

1/3 cup canola oil

Salt and pepper, to taste

Macerate ginger in soy sauce for at least 15 minutes in a small bowl. Meanwhile, cut the Ahi and avocado into 1/2-inch cubes. Finely chop green onions. In a large bowl, combine Ahi and avocado with green onions, red pepper flakes, and sesame seeds. Add more red pepper, or Sriracha red chile sauce (rooster brand), if you want more kick. Whisk sesame oil into macerated ginger sauce and then combine with Ahi mixture. Combine gently so avocados maintain their shape. Season with salt. Cover and refrigerate before serving.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice sweet potato thinly for potato chips, 1/4-inch or less. This is easiest if you have a mandolin. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and coat with canola oil. Place slices onto baking sheet, coating oil on both sides. Salt and pepper to taste. Bake for about 8 minutes, turn slices over and coat with more oil if necessary. Bake until crispy for another 7 minutes more. Drain on paper towel covered plate.

To serve, spoon some Ahi poke onto dish along with some seaweed salad and a few sweet potato chips.

Recipe by Julie Ogilvie. Photos by Aaron Ogilvie. 

Theresa’s Chili with Avocado Garnish

Chili with Avocado 2Whoa. The holidays totally kicked my butt. Thus, the very shameful hiatus in posting anything. And I don’t live in the Midwest anymore. I really don’t have an excuse. My poor parents and everyone else living with the Polar Vortex must be going bananas. Here in California, we are dealing with a different kind of winter weirdness in the midst of a severe drought combined with super warm days. I honestly can’t remember the last time it rained, or when it was even cloudy. We are starting to organize rain dances in my office (I work with a bunch of biologists whose work also depends on rain), and I am adding some of my personal hope in those prayers to bring rain to the grove and all California farmers.

Chili with Avocado 1When dealing with outward stresses such as weird winters and unknown futures, like most people, I turn to comfort food. So here is a recipe from my sister for chili to warm the soul. For those of you who have not tried avocado as a topping to your chili, you are missing out. Once I tried it, I have not been able to have chili without avocado. I tried to get my husband to nail down his recipe for his chili made with beef chuck and ancho chiles, but he’s a hard one to nail down. Next time he makes it, I’ll write it all down and post it as well for a mini intra-family chili cook-off. Like guacamole, everyone seems to have their own take on chili (see prior guacamole recipe post).

Theresa’s Chili with Avocado Garnish
Serves 4

2 cups dried chili beans (mix of black, pinto, red, and kidney beans)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 pound ground beef

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)

½ red bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

½ yellow bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

½ orange bell pepper, diced (about ½ cup)

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

1 15-ounce can tomato sauce

3-4 cups water

Sour cream, shredded cheddar, and chopped avocado, for garnish

Place dried beans in a large glass bowl and cover with approximately 2 inches of water. Soak for at least 8 hours or overnight. Drain beans and rinse with cold water, picking out any bad ones. Transfer to a large pot and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-30 minutes until beans are almost tender.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large soup pot over high heat and brown beef. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in peppers, cumin, chili powder, salt and black pepper.

Drain the par-cooked beans and add to the chili along with whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and water. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a spoon or just use your hand. Bring the chili to a boil and reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour or until beans are fully cooked and flavors have deepened. Serve hot in individual bowls topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, and avocado.

Recipe and photography by Theresa Gilliam. Her recently published cookbook, Bacon 24 7, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

How Do You Take Your Guacamole?

ANBP_130926_THE_guacamole_28Posting a guacamole recipe on a site about an avocado farm is inevitable, or some might even call it cliché. But when I really started to think about it, I realized that of all the guacamole I have eaten in my life (and at this point, it’s getting to be a significant amount), no two recipes have tasted the same. Everyone has their own tweak.

Do you like it mashed and creamy, or chunky? Do you add other veggies, or are you a purist? How much kick (aka, spice) do you like? Do you add garlic, or are you a vampire? The possibilities are endless. So long as you have the basic ingredient of several good (California!) avocados, you are in business.ANBP_130926_THE_guacamole_30

The following recipe is my husband’s, which has received copious praise whenever we have guests over. Some even claim he should enter it in a contest. It was hard to get him to nail down the exact ingredient amounts and proportions since he tends to just chop everything up and throw spices in without bothering to pull out the measuring spoons, but the basic elements are here and the proportions seem about right. It’s also hard because avocados can vary in size and amount of pulp. But that’s the point, feel free to take the suggestions below, or even add in your own tweak.


Aaron’s Guacamole
Serves 6-8

3 medium size Hass avocados

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon sour cream

½ heirloom tomato, diced

¼ to 1 whole jalapeño pepper, depending on your spice scale, finely diced

1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Dash of red hatch chile powder (the good stuff from New Mexico), to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Slice avocados in half and remove the seeds. While holding a half of an avocado with the skin side in the palm of your hand, slice the avocado lengthwise in strips being careful not to pierce the skin. Holding over a bowl, pinch the skins to push all the pulp into the bowl. Repeat with remaining halves. Mash with a fork or potato masher. Add all remaining ingredients and combine. Eat with your favorite tortilla chips.

Recipe by Aaron Ogilvie. Food styling by Theresa Gilliam. Photography by Angie Norwood Browne. Additional pictures of this guacamole recipe, or more of Angie’s work, can be seen on her blog.