Folks who live in the south may already be used to ordering fried green beans, so this dish won't be such a surprise.
Once the paddles, or nopales, are cleaned and cut into strips (nopalitos), they're just like any other fried food. Give the strips an egg and milk bath, dredge in flour and pop in a skillet full of hot oil.
The fact is that cactus is really good for you (notwithstanding the fact that these are friend, of course). Large quantities of prickly pear paddles and blooms come from Mexico to Texas and other parts regularly. This plant is also grown in the U.S. Find a mercado and you'll see the paddles piled high in vegetable bins. Just look for the ever-present tongs when you're bagging them as most paddles still have their spines (agüates). A sharp knife at home will take care of these; just be sure to remove the surrounding nodules, too. No need to skin them, but do use heavy gloves to prevent an accidental spiking.
Cactus is like okra as it secretes a slimy sap while you work with it, so be prepared. A rinse and blanch will take care of the mess. Back to green beans - that's one way to describe the taste, only cactus produces a milder flavor. So why not load up on vitamins and minerals, along with the fiber content that many believe can lower blood sugar and even reduce cholesterol. Once you've indulged in cactus fries, you may want to try a more healthy relish to take advantage of heart-healthy benefits.
2005-2010 C.K. Kennedy
Pittsburg, TX 75686
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