Monday, April 26, 2010

Nopales Asados (Grilled Cactus)

In Mexican cooking Cactus pads are a commonly consumed vegetable, cactus pads once cleaned can be used in a variety of dishes. In meat stews or stewed with Fava beans, salads, grilled, sauteed with meat, by itself, with eggs, pickled, etc. it is a very versatile vegetable in the Mexican kitchen.

I wanna share with you all a very simple, straight forward way we enjoy nopales at my house. Which is simply grilled, and we serve it with any meat dish preferably grilled meats, but any Mexican stewed meat or fried meat dish goes well, paired with corn tortillas and if you'd like refried or boiled pinto beans.

Ingredients:

-cactus pads (cleaned, thorns/ spines removed)
-salt and pepper to taste (or your favorite meat seasoning)
-oil to coat cactus pads

Directions:

(1) If you bought cactus pads with the thorns uncleaned or picked them yourself, simply, trim off the edges like so
then put the knife on an angle and scrape forward several times both sides,
then then scrape the towards the ends,
rinse well, and remove any stubborn thorns or brown spots with your knife, wash and pat dry.
(2) Rub oil on cactus pads, season liberally with salt and pepper or your favorite meat seasoning.
(3) Then put on a very hot griddle or nonstick pan or grill on high heat and cook 4-5 minutes on each side.

(4) Remove and set aside on a plate, pile them up til your done.

PLEASE NOTE:
*My mother likes using a meat seasoning in her Mexican cooking called "Chef Merito" meat seasoning which is a very FLAVORFUL mexican spice blend of salt, sugar, citric acid, black pepper, cumin, paprika, star anise, msg, onion powder, and oregano. She tells me it's the closest thing she has found in the USA to the meat seasonings she grew up with in Mexico. Mmmm... a steak marinaded with that spice blend, with a splash of orange juice some fresh sliced onion and minced cilantro is so delicious when cooked in a hot pan or grill (trust me that's how Vallarta seasons their meats I know it ;)

If interested in other recipes that use Nopales check out my post for:
"Ensalada de Nopales" (Cactus Salad)

3 comments:

Lyndsey said...

This is great! I've seen them in the store, and I wasn't sure how to use it or prepare it. We also have a huge cactus, but wasn't sure if it's the same thing. (I like to blend my own meat seasoning)

Thanks.

Nathan said...

Lyndsey,
They have a lemony grassy taste that I love. Be careful however the one's home grown are harder to clean and have more spines. Just be sure to watch some youtube videos on it and where gloves for the fresh cut ones from home. They are currently in season :)

If you wanna use them in stews and sautee's be sure to first after cleaning julien them, then boil them in a pot of salted water uncovered until cooked through then drain (my mom likes to boil them with a piece of onion, garlic cloves, and cilantro). This takes away the goo that can ruin some your dishes.

I'll post a meat dish recipe today, we have soooo many at home right now we are gonna be cooking with them for awhile.

If you ever decide to grill them they make a good breakfast by cutting them into bite size squares, the heat a pan, add them with some oil, when all their liquid reduces add minced onion, brown the onion, then stir in beaten eggs season with salt and pepper. It's like a veggie scramble. Enjoy with some tortillas and your favorite hot ssauce or somehting :)

YayaOrchid said...

I'm gonna be on the lookout for that chef merito seasoning. Sounds good!

Love your tutorials and pictures to demonstrate your techniques. Great job!