Avocado Smoothie - Sinh to Bo
Easy - You got this
Avocados in western cuisine are often favoured for savoury dishes such as dips, spreads and smashed avocado on toast, and it’s not uncommon to question whether they’re a fruit. However, in Vietnam, there’s no question about it. Avocados are treated more like a fruit and thus reserved for desserts and beverages such as sinh to bo (Vietnamese avocado smoothie), kem bo (Vietnamese avocado ice cream) which can be found in abundance throughout Central Vietnam. They’re also enjoyed as is with a sprinkling of granulated sugar or a generous spoonful of condensed milk.
In my opinion, as guacamole is to Mexico as smashed avo on toast is to Australia, a refreshing avocado smoothie is the quintessential avocado dish of Vietnam. Refreshing chilled fruit smoothies are ideal in Vietnam’s warm climate. Vietnamese mango smoothies and watermelon smoothies along with avocado smoothies can provide respite in warm and humid conditions. While it’s common practice in the west to freeze fruit prior to blending, in Vietnam where freezers are scarce, fresh fruit is used along with the addition of crushed ice.
A Vietnamese avocado smoothie is a refreshing drink that is creamy, earthy and nutty. The sweetness of the condensed milk and sugar is imperative to its flavour, and creates a smooth texture where the avocado’s natural creaminess and nuttiness is accentuated.
Experimenting over the years with hass, reed and shepard avocados, I’ve found ripe hass avocados give the best results as they are most creamy (almost buttery!) and nutty. The collateral beauty of ripe avocados is that it’s tasting notes are mature and concentrated. Like the Vietnamese mango smoothie recipe which uses ripe mangos, ripe avocados will result in a smoothie with maximum flavour.
My first memorable avocado smoothie experience came when I was a child. When avocados were in season my dad would scout for ripe or damaged avocados at the supermarket or farmer’s market. Mum would prepare avocado smoothies in the ensuing hours which would keep in the fridge for 2–3 days (a great way to extend ripe avocados). Mum’s recipe which she carried over from Vietnam was basic and did not contain my secret ingredient: young coconut water.
In Australia where freezers are an essential kitchen appliance I have yet caved into the temptation of freezing avocados prior to blending (it hasn’t even crossed my mind!) but I have innovated mum's recipe and substituted ice cubes with frozen coconut water. Natural sweetness, nuttiness and subtle savouriness further accentuates the avocados tasting notes and the omission of ice reduces the smoothie’s dependence on sugar for sweetness.
So if avocado prices are down, do yourself a favour and grab a few ripe avocados and treat yourself to the refreshing flavours of a Vietnamese avocado smoothie. Unique in Australia but common in Vietnam, expect a sweet and delectable side to avocados you may be missing out on.
Juice from a young coconut (300ml), 300ml coconut water or 1 cup of ice
1 large ripe avocado
½ tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons condensed milk
2-3 teaspoons toasted coconut chips (optional)
Pour young coconut water or coconut water into ice trays and freeze.
Duncan’s tip: For best results use young coconut water and do this the night before. If you don’t have time to freeze the coconut water substitute with 1 cup of ice.
Halve avocado and with a tablespoon scoop out flesh and into a blender.
Place frozen coconut water, sugar, condensed milk and milk into the blender and pulse until lump-free and thick.
Serve in glasses, garnish with a sprinkle of toasted coconut chips and consume with a thick straw and a teaspoon on the side.