Thursday, July 30, 2009

Nopales in Chipotle Sauce

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We were off to Cabo del San Jose last week for a quick getaway. We stayed at a wonderful all-inclusive resort, sipped a lot of Pina Colada and stuffed ourselves silly. A week of poolside sun and delicious Mexican food later, neither of us wanted the vacation to end. So we re-created a small piece of Mexico at home with this nopales dish.

Nopales is a type of edible catcus. It's certainly something that I've never worked with. This recipe also calls for tomatillos, another ingredient that I've never used before. Thankfully, living in California gives me access to ingredients that may be hard to find elsewhere. I'm a novice when it comes to Mexican food, so I found and followed this recipe.

Even though I don't have an original recipe to share, here are a couple of things that I learned from preparing this meal:

Cleaning nopales is thorny business. I remove the spines and the nodes by running the flat side of my knife along the pod from different directions, sort of like scaling a fish. Nopales can be slimy, so the pods have to be rinsed frequently during the cleaning process. Finally, the edges are also removed. Clean nopales are then cut into 1/4 inch slices.

To roast tomatillos, first, remove the husks and clean the fruit. Then, place the tomatillos in an oven-proof skillet. I use my trusty cast iron skillet. Broil tomatillos for about 7 to 10 minutes until the skin turns slightly brown. Remove and allow them to cool.

To round off the meal, we wrap nopales in flour tortillas and add some vegetarian refried beans, salsa and rice. The nopales are crunchy, slightly bitter and tart from the tomatillo chipotle sauce. The chipotle adobe sauce adds smoky spice to the dish. Overall, this meal is a wonderful end to our Mexican vacation.

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