One of the things I like best about Vietnam is the café culture. And by café, I mean any collection of plastic stools on the sidewalk, set up by an entrepreneurial local who mixes drinks for her neighbors. At any time of the day, along the streets of Saigon, Hanoi, Hoi An, etc., the Vietnamese just crouch around wobbly pastel tables and sip their drink of choice. Whether it’s cafe sua da, sugarcane juice, aloe vera shake, or passionfruit juice, the icy beverages are practically lifesavers in a sweltering climate.
If a fruit grows in abundance in Vietnam, you can be sure it is pulsed into a shake. And avocados are everywhere. I grew up associating avocados with salty foods: mashed into guacamole, fanned on chicken sandwiches, sprinkled with sea salt and eaten straight. So a sweet shake was something of a novelty.
But it makes sense. Because avocado flesh is naturally neither sweet nor salty, it’s a tabula rasa for any creamy concoction you want to make.
Since the shake comes out rather thick, and contains both avocados and sweetened condensed milk (not exactly diet foods), I consider it more of a dessert than a light drink. But you can always thin it out with a little more milk and crushed ice.
According to writer Andrea Nguyen, Indonesians add Hershey’s syrup to their avocado shakes. That’s fatty delight on top of fatty delight, though I’m curious if chocolate overwhelms the avocado.
Vietnamese Avocado Shake
Makes 1 large drink, or 2 to 4 mini drinks
- 1 large ripe avocado
- 1 cup ice cubes or crush ice
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup milk or unsweetened coconut milk
- Scoop the avocado flesh into the blender and add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse, then blend until smooth. If needed, adjust the sweetness with more condensed milk or sugar, and adjust the thickness with more milk/coconut milk. Pour into a glass and serve cold.