I tend to eat a lot of avocado with Japanese inspired dishes. Usually sliced atop a sticky grilled chicken or fish with rice, cucumber and pickled ginger or mixed with mayo and sesame seeds for a luscious quick sauce. It was as I was remembering a delicious appetizer of crispy rice with avocado and spicy tuna from Japango in Boulder that I got the idea to do something similar with whole grains and a beloved brown butter balsamic sauce.
I chose to use pearl barley which gets wonderfully creamy and fries up super crispy and added some chopped hazelnuts and green onion for garnish. The results were great- a crispy, nutty cake with rich, creamy avocado and slightly sweet sticky sauce.
The barley can be made ahead of time- or even use leftover barley as long as you've cooked it to a creamy enough consistency. —savorthis
water (or half water, half broth)
aged balsamic (the thicker the better!)
Rinse barley and drain well. Heat 1 T oil in a medium sized pot and toast barley until it begins to brown a bit. Add water and 1 t salt, bring to a boil and simmer until very thick and creamy. Set a timer for about 25 minutes and stirred frequently toward the end to avoid sticking on the bottom and to break up the starches a bit. The barley should be very tender and very creamy so add a bit more water if needed. Let cool slightly and blend half the barley with a hand mixer or blender and stir back in to the rest and season with salt if needed. Allow to cool enough to handle and then form into small patties. You might want a bowl of water to dip your hands into as the mixture gets pretty sticky.
Alternately, you can spread the barley into an even layer in a baking dish and refrigerate then cut into squares or rounds when ready to fry.
Toast hazelnuts in a small pan over medium heat, stirring often until beginning to brown. Fold into a clean kitchen towel or napkin and press and rub to remove the skins. It is ok if some skins are remaining. Coarsely chop.
Add butter to pan and cook until the solids begin to brown. Whisk in soy, vinegar and honey and pour into a bowl. Taste for salt- you might want to add a pinch.
Heat 1/4" of oil in a large pan and fry barley cakes until nicely browned on each side, draining on a paper towel.
Cut avocado in half and (carefully!) whap a sharp knife across the pit, twist slightly and remove. Cut thin slices of avocado and, using a large spoon, scoop avocado from skin. Thinly slice green onion.
Place a few slices of avocado on each cake, drizzle with sauce and garnish with hazelnuts and green onion. Enjoy right away.