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!

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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. Too funny :) English is my second language too; when I moved to USA I used to say things like flat and lift instead of apartment and elevator

  2. The inside almost looks like kiwi. What is the taste like?

  3. Oh wow Ben! That’s one I have to taste…:-( Is the little dots on the fruit used to be thorns? Language wise… I can trick my friends about Prickly Tuna :-D especially my Japanese friends :-P Also, I never taste the nopales.. even though back in my country, we have something like a park where you can find all sort of tropical plants from various countries from cacti to fruits like durians, rambutans, bread fruit,etc. Now, we even planted commercially Pitaya aka Dragon fruits especially the red type which a local company made wine out of it and also sort of fruit enzyme with honey. I haven’t taste the Red Pitaya Wine though … :-)

    BTW is there any dried version of this fruit? I tasted dried kiwi before ..i love it!

  4. I haven’t had these in ages, and they are so delicious. Thanks for reminding me!

  5. wow… learned and saw something new… too bad wasn’t able to taste it… thanks for sharing :)

  6. THANKS FOR THAT KNOWLEDGE.KNOWING NOT IT WAS A FRUIT, I JUST PAST IT BY , I ALWAYS USE THE LEAVES FOR MEDICINAL PURPOSES OR TO WASH MY HAIR, AS IT IS ALWAYS SAID, NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN. GOOD TO GO MAN, BLESS UP.

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