Although we all remember some version of Avocado Ritz – a favourite on South African restaurant menus in years gone by – information on the history of this much-loved starter is scant. Even though this reworked version uses smoked trout and papaya, the tastiness and tongue-in-cheek retro fun of this recipe should enchant modern diners no end with its refreshing simplicity.
One can either prepare your own mayonnaise or simply flavour store-bought mayonnaise with the additional ingredients to make a version of an ‘Aurore’ sauce. Although this is not strictly an Aurore sauce (the name is generally reserved for a warm sauce, such as béchamel, to which tomato paste is added) and should more correctly be called a Thousand Island Dressing or Seafood Sauce, such salad dressings would be too runny for this recipe where nice thick mayonnaise is needed to hold together the papaya and other ingredients. But the name, Aurore, which means ‘dawn’ in French, is so delightful we may be forgiven for referring to this as an Aurore Mayonnaise. Other ingredients that could work well in an Aurore Mayonnaise would be chilli or Tabasco, a splash of brandy or even a dollop of plain yoghurt, should one want to extend the sauce but reduce the oil for health reasons.
Finally, feel free to replace the smoked trout for the more traditional classic poached prawns or shrimp, or even crayfish if you’re feeling flush – you can’t go wrong with any of these.
Ingredients for 4 to 6 people:
2 or 3 ripe avocado pears, skinned and cut in half
¼ to a ½ ripe papaya, cut into similar sized cubes
Segments from 1 large pink grapefruit
2 fillets of smoked trout, flaked
2 stalks celery, finely sliced
1 carrot, cut into ribbons with a potato peeler
A few stems of fresh parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
For the Aurore Mayonnaise:
30 ml (about ½ a medium lemon) juice and zest
7,5 ml (½ tablespoon) sugar
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt
2,5 ml (½ teaspoon) freshly ground black pepper
7,5 ml (½ tablespoon) prepared mustard (any type)
1 whole egg
30 ml (2 tablespoons) good quality bottled tomato sauce
30 ml (2 tablespoons) ground smoked paprika
125 ml sunflower oil
For the mayonnaise, place all the ingredients except the oil into a jug blender (or the jug of a stick blender), and blend together.
Once a stable emulsion is achieved, drizzle in the oil to create a really thick, almost pulpy consistency.
Gently toss together as much or as little of the Avocado Ritz ingredients (apart from the avocado) with some of the mayonnaise and spoon artfully onto the avocado halves.
Decorate with more grapefruit segments, papaya cubes, flaked trout, rocket leaves, or simply grind over some fresh pepper.