Some Boston-based friends introduced me to The Cheesecake Factory a few years back when I was over there, and I was impressed. Not by the cheesecakes - oddly enough both times I’ve been there, we barely made it as far as the dessert. No, there was one particular dish on their menu that made the place memorable for me, and it was an appetiser - their Avocado Egg Rolls. Personally, I would never have picked that off a menu unprompted - I like avocado well enough, but it wouldn’t necessarily be my starter of choice in usual circumstances given the cornucopia of options available, but my ever savvy hosts insisted I try them, as they were, and I believe I quote correctly, “to die for”. I was quietly skeptical, but when in Rome as they say.
Anyway, it turned out they were entirely correct - I was amazed how good these things tasted, particularly when combined with the dubious looking but nevertheless divine dipping sauce they came with. I don’t think I’ve tasted a more appealing vegetarian dish before or since (not that I tend to deliberately seek out vegetarian options, but have been known to partake in them on occasion), and on seeking them out during a later return trip to Boston my interest was reinvigorated. As such, I was determined to try to recreate them in my own kitchen at some point.
Well, it took a while, mostly because of busy lifestyles and some slightly awkward ingredients (tamarind in particular is not that easy to come by here), but last night we finally got around to doing it, armed with a helpful recipe harvested from the intertubes. We were prepared for anything up to and including total disaster, but in fact it turned out pretty darned well. We’d probably tone down the honey a touch in the dipping sauce next time, but that’s just down to tweaking - other than that it ended up very authentic.