We have to cover quite a bit of ground before we get to the final dish today. As you may recall, we are eating on nopales this week and that refers to the paddle/stem of the cactus. They become nopalitos after they have been cut up and ready for eating. So if you see nopalitos in a recipe title, just know you’re going to have to work on your nopales before they get ready for cooking.
First things first, you have to get rid of the thorns. To get rid of said thorns, you need to cut around the outside edges as seen above, except you can probably make the cuts smaller, my hands are not as trained. It is just easier than trying to pull all the outside thorns out. However, you have a few options to get the thorns out of there. I tried a vegetable peeler at first but it wasn’t happening. I thought maybe running the knife against the grain of the thorns would flick them off but that wasn’t going anywhere. Finally, I just got frustrated and scraped a knife all over until it left me with little indentations in the flesh where thorns once resided.
Here is something you may not be expecting to hear, but when it comes time to chop them up, these things are slimy. I had no clue something so prickly could be so slimy on the inside, it almost seems like a dangerous combination to have. It isn’t just an inconvenient amount of slime either, it was like stringy cling to everything slime where I had to keep a towel handy if my hand lightly grazed any part of it.
To tone down the sliminess, it was advised to boil them twice and rinse off any “mucilage.” The website, SimplyRecipes.com, where I got the recipe suggested adding something else to the water and that list seemed a bit much and I don’t have any husks handy and didn’t want to plop a copper coin in the water.
I’m going to be so honest with you all that it might be disappointing to hear. If you ever looked at a slug and wondered what it would be like to eat a bowl full of slugs, you would try cooking nopales for the first time. I barely did any chewing as one of the cuts slid down my throat and I swear I felt the sliminess of it in my stomach, like a stomach full of slugs that left a trail. I’m sure there are plenty of abuelas who can make a fantastic bowl full of non-slimy nopalitos, but unfortunately this is my first time handling them and I got them slimier than an early 90’s Nickelodeon studio.
Slimy bland green beans. That is my bottom line on the taste and texture of nopales so far.