Featured Ingredient — By Ben on 14 August 2008
Tuna. Not that kind, this kind

It is very confusing when you are learning a new language and find out that one of their words is exactly the same than a word in your language, but they describe completely differnt things. That is exactly what happens when you are from Mexico and learn that the word tuna in English is used to refer to a kind of fish, but you grew up using the word tuna to refer to the fruit of a cactus. Confused yet? Good, I’ve done my job :D Anyway, this is what we know as tuna in Mexico:

That’s just the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. You might remember nopales, the pads of the same cactus that I used for this salad. Well, these little guys are the sweet counterpart of the pads. I saw them at the Mexican market last Monday and I immediately picked some up. It’s been a long time since I’ve had tunas (not the fish, we are clear on that) and I just wanted to remember their sweet flavor and their crunchy and slimy texture.

If you want to try them you have to eat them cold. Throw them in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating them and they will be perfect for a hot summer day. Prickly pears have a very thick skin. The easiest way to cut them is to cut the ends and then make a cut lengthwise through the skin. Pull apart the skin where you made the cut and the edible part will stare right at you. Make sure that the prickly pears have been cleaned. It’s not fun when a thorn gets in your skin.

There you have it. Another delicious and nutritious Mexican ingredient that will refresh you this summer. I think agua fresca de tuna (prickly pear juice) sounds perfect right now.

¡Buen provecho!

Tagged as:

Related Articles

About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(16) Readers Comments

  1. Interesting Ben (as usual). I’ve only ever heard of these but it’s good to be advised about how to prepare and eat them.

  2. Mmm, I love both kinds of tuna (but not together!).

    I’ve seen the same problem with taco (tako is octopus in Japanese) – an elderly Japanese man thought he was going to get octopus, and ended up with something he didn’t recognize!

  3. I learned something new today! I’ve only ever heard it referred to as prickly pear even though I have Hispanic relations — :( I feel sad. It looks really refreshing, like a mango, but not.

  4. The ones I see are always pink /red.Is there a diffrence in the flavor?

  5. how about a prickly pear margarita!

  6. So that’s what a tuna looks like? Well that just blew my mind.

    Quick question though… I see two hands in the last pic… so who’s holding the camera? Do you have a third arm? If so… I want to party with that guy

  7. Your turn for the language lesson Ben! I didn’t know that, interesting :)

  8. I’ve never heard of or seen this fruit before. Thanks for the introduction.

  9. I have never seen a prickly pear before. I guess they don’t make it all the way up to Canada. Looks good, although the thorns sound scary.

  10. Ooh, how interesting, I didn’t know about the ‘tuna’! I am in the process of swopping my subscriptions over to google reader and so you will get a notice saying I have unsubscribed from your updates (maybe). Don’t be offended, I’m still reading.

Leave a Reply