Food

Nopales (Cactus) Tacos

Nopales, also known as prickly pears, have a tart flavor and are similar in texture to green beans. Some think nopales are an acquired taste because they are gooey inside like okras.  For this recipe, I stir-fried them Asian-style and assembled them into delicious vegetarian tacos.

The pricklies on the cactus need to be removed before cooking, although every time I have bought them, they were already cleaned and prepped.  You can buy nopales at your local Mexican grocery store.  While you are there, don’t forget to pick up a bag of whole cumin seeds.  Fresh Shiitake mushrooms are easy to find these days.  back in the day, they were only available in Asian grocery stores, but recently, both Trader Joe’s and Safeway started carrying them.  Ground white pepper is widely available in any spice aisle.  White peppercorns actually come from the same plant as black peppercorns, but are processed differently.  I find them to be more flavorful than black peppercorn when used in Chinese cooking.

nopales tacos ingrediants

cut

Slice nopales to 1/2″ thick slices, but keep the ends attached.

Nopales stir-fried in wok

Nopales stir-fried in wok

Nopales (Cactus) Tacos

Stir-Fry:
– 4 nopales, medium size
– 2 jalapenos, julienned
– ½ red onion, chopped
– 1 to 2 tbsp garlic, minced
– 1 tbsp ginger, minced
– 1 cup shiitake mushroom, sliced
– zest of one lime
– 2 tbsp peanut oil, or any other stir-fry oil

Stir-Fry Sauce:
– 3 tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tbsp cooking wine
– 1 tbsp rice vinegar
– ½ tsp ground white pepper
– 1 tbsp brown sugar
– 1 tsp whole cumin seeds

Taco Assembly:
– 6 corn tortilla
– ½ cup cilantro
– 1 tomato, chopped
– 1 avocado, cubed

Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl.

Preheat broiler.  Slice nopales to ½” thick slices, but keep the ends attached (see photo).  Place in a pan, on the top rack of your oven, and broil for 5 minutes.  Take out and wash in cold water to reduce slime.  Cut into 2” long slices and set aside.

For carbon steel wok, heat pan up before adding oil.  (For non-stick or stainless steel pans, pour oil in pan before turning on heat.)  Put garlic, ginger, and onion in wok or pan, one by one, and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Throw mushrooms in and stir for 1 minute.  Add jalapenos and stir for 1 minute.  Add sliced nopales in and mix well.  Pour sauce in and stir for about 3 minutes, until done.  Add lime zest and mix well.

Toast tortillas on pan or in the toaster oven until they are warm.  Assemble tacos with stir-fry, tomato, avocado, and cilantro.  Add your favorite hot sauce!

nopales tacos

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