How to cook nopal cactus without water?

Enrique Olvera considered one of the best chefs in Mexico, revealed that nopales can be cooked without water. This trick is what you need to know.

How to cook nopal cactus without water?
This is how to cook nopales without water. Photo by Acton Crawford / Unsplash

During the taping of the Netflix original reality show, "The Final Table", the famous chef Enrique Olvera revealed that nopales can be cooked without water using a traditional method. So that you can also apply it, you're going to learn this culinary trick.

Olvera pointed out that people in the countryside, instead of using fire and water use salt, "you use a lot of salt and wash it," said the chef during the first episode of the series in which the country selected to recreate its gastronomy was Mexico and where the contestant couples were asked to cook a typical Mexican taco.

During the elimination challenge, the renowned chef requested that the main ingredient in the dish be prepared to be nopales and prickly pear cacti. And it was then that he shared the technique for cooking nopales, which consists of cutting them into cubes or slightly larger pieces than we want them since we must consider that these will reduce their size, then they are covered with grain salt and after a few minutes, they are rinsed a couple of times to remove the excess salt. They can be cooked in this easy way without having to be submerged in water.

It is worth paying attention to the chef's advice, as he is considered one of the best in Mexico and the world. It should be remembered that a few days ago The World's 50 Best Restaurants 2022 list was released and Pujol, Enrique Olvera's restaurant, was ranked 5th on the list and was also recognized as the Best Restaurant in North America.

Benefits of eating nopal

Now that you know the trick to cook nopales simply and quickly, let's introduce you to a series of reasons to incorporate them into your regular diet.

High nutritional level. It is a low-calorie cactus that contains 2 types of fiber: insoluble fiber, which prevents constipation, hemorrhoids, and colon cancer; and soluble fiber, which helps the body to assimilate nutrients gradually, thus avoiding blood sugar peaks. This makes them an ideal food for people suffering from diabetes.

Lose weight. It contains a high amount of fiber that helps us to feel satiated for a longer period, in addition to slowing down the absorption of fats, allowing our body to process them efficiently. That is, by assimilating sugars in the blood slowly, it increases the opportunity to use that energy immediately instead of becoming reserve fats.

Prevents various ailments. The Aztecs used the pulp of the nopal plant to treat diarrhea; they drank its juice to lower fever; they used the slime to cure chapped lips; the prickly pear to help excess bile; and the roots to treat ulcers, hernias, and liver problems.

It reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. Nopal cactus contains a lot of calcium, since, for every 100 grams, 80 grams are of this mineral, helping to prevent diseases such as osteopenia, which is the loss of calcium in the bones and can lead to osteoporosis. However, it should be clarified that the nopal does not cure these ailments, it is only a great source of calcium, and it is bioavailable because with the calcium from the ripe nopal, the body can recover bone mineral mass and strengthen bones.

Healthier skin. In addition to consuming it for human consumption, nopal can be used externally, and thanks to its antiseptic properties it is a natural cleanser. It also works as an antioxidant, therefore, it helps to reduce wrinkles and skin blemishes.