Sour Prickly Pears (Xoconostle) in Napa!

Ever since my first taste of xoconostle in Guanajuato many years ago, I've been a little sad that I haven't been able to grow or find them here in California. I tried to grow them but it didn't work. I'd almost given up.

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Then one day, the heavens decided to smile on me and introduced me to my new food friend, Noel, and with very little sleuthing, he discovered them here in Napa.

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When Noel brought me my stash, I quickly fainted. When I came to, I ran from work and went home and tried to recreate a salsa my friends in Mexico had taught me. First the xoconostle were roasted in their skin. I may have gone too far but the charring never reached the flesh of the fruit. I also roasted garlic and briefly toasted some guajillo chiles, all on the comal. I reconstituted the chiles in water and then blended all of the ingredients with some salt in the blender, adding a little water to help the blades move.

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It made a delicious salsa. The xoconostle adds a meaty fruitiness that can't be replicated without them. First job for the sauce was to doctor up a poached egg on beans. It worked!

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3 Comments on Sour Prickly Pears (Xoconostle) in Napa!

  1. Steve, one of the Conaculta cookbooks (#5) is Recetario guanajuatense del xoconostle… I’ve never cooked from it, although they do occasionally have xoconostle at Berkeley Bowl.

    It does not name the species of Opuntia; the Diccionario de gastronomía Mexicana gives O. lasiacantha (with perhaps false precision). A cursory google turns up little about cultivation except that the NYBG flowered it easily (surely in a greenhouse) at the turn of the last century:
    http://books.google.com/books?id=A0MWAAAAYAAJ&lpg=PA19&ots=vKMaYYodbH&dq=Opuntia%20lasiacantha&pg=PA19#v=onepage&q=Opuntia%20lasiacantha&f=false
    I’ll see if I can come up with something better later.

  2. Thanks for the sleuthing. They last a long time so if you’re interested and you see them, you can keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to experiment.
    What I’d love is a paddle. Succulents from seeds seems to be a drag.
    I have many of those books so i’ll check if i have number 5 tonight!

  3. Steve have you tried xoconostle with beans? DK has a recipe, from Hildalgo, with Flor de Mayo, xoconostle, guajillos, avocado leaves, etc that I used to enjoy (My Mexico, p 200, Frijoles Quebrados). My favorite is still en almíbar over coconut ice cream; it’s good and so pretty.

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