I’m always interested in trying new foods. And so I was intrigued when Richard posted a recipe for cactus on his wonderful blog REMCooks. Richard is a great connoisseur of Mexican cuisine, and his recipes are always delicious. Once you remove the spines, the cactus is fine to eat. There is only one issue. In Texas and Mexico cactus plants grow like weeds, but in the Netherlands it is too cold for them. I had seen cactus paddles at the specialty market a few times, but they never seemed fresh. Until the other day. And so I grabbed them, and prepared them using Richard’s recipe as a basis, with some modifications. When we tasted the dish, we thought the cactus and corn needed something to bring their flavors together. To stay within the Mexican theme, I tried ground coriander seed, and it worked like a charm. The result was very nice. The cactus tastes a bit like beans, but has slightly more flavor and a bit of tartness to them. They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and together with the coriander work very well with the sweet corn and the spiciness of the chilli. Here’s what I did…
For 2 servings as a side
450 grams (1 lb) cactus paddles
corn kernels of 1 cob
1 red chilli, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
1 tsp ground coriander seed
The only drawback to this recipe is that removing the spines is a bit of a chore. The first method I tried was with pincers, but that took too long.
Then I tried scraping along the surface with a paring knife, and that was a lot faster.
The paddle cleaned with the pincers (on the left-hand side) looks better, but once cooked you won’t notice the difference anyway.
Dice the cactus paddles.
Sauté the cactus paddles with onion in the olive oil over medium high heat for a couple of minutes.
Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.
Stir every 5 minutes or so.
At first it will look quite slimy, but at the end of the 20 minutes it should be dry and with some browned spots.
Season with salt and add a teaspoon of ground coriander seed.
Add the corn, chilli, and garlic.
Sauté over medium high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add about a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juices.
Sauté for another couple of minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt.
The cactus with corn is now ready to serve.