The nopales of Los Angeles are sprouting up everywhere! This may seem completely insignificant unless you have explored the special nutritional benefits of nopal and how much it is enjoyed in Mexican cuisine. This recipe for Shrimp Cocktail with Nopalitos takes the Mexican classic shrimp cocktail and combines it with the classic Mexican Nopalito Salad. Nopal, also known as cactus pad, is very low in saturated sat and cholesterol. It is also a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, iron and copper, and a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese. And with an amino acid score of 71 the protein content isn’t bad either– for a vegetable! I must give credit to my partner Ricky who makes the bomb-est shrimp cocktail, and came up with this awesome combination.
shrimp cocktail with nopalitos
2 pounds of shrimp with peel
1 onion, chopped, separated in half
1 lemon, cut in half
10 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced, separated in half
2 quarts water or vegetable broth
2 tsp. each sea salt and pepper (for seasoning shrimp boil water)
8-12 nopales, depending on size (cactus leaves), peeled of thorns and cut into squares (nopalitos)
3 tomatoes, diced with seeds
8 radishes, sliced or diced
1 fresh lime, juiced
½ bunch cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
½-1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
¼ tsp. each sea salt and pepper for cocktail
You will need two pots, one for the shrimp, one for the nopalitos. Place 2 quarts of the water or stock in each pot. In one pot place half the onion, half the garlic, and 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper. In the other pot place the other half of the onion and garlic, 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper, and the lemon halves, squeezing the juice out into the pot and placing the entire lemon with the skin and everything. Bring bot pots of water to a boil. In the pot with the lemon add the shrimp, and add the nopalitos to the other pot. Cook both the shrimp and the nopalitos for about 10 minutes, until they are tender and cooked through. Separately drain and cool both the shrimp and nopalitos.
In a mixing bowl, combine the cooled nopalitos, tomatoes, radishes, lime juice, cilantro, cumin, jalapeno, salt and pepper. Peel the shrimp and add to the nopale cocktail mixture, and mix well until everything is blended. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for a couple hours.
To serve, spoon the mixture into cocktail glasses and garnish with fresh avocado or lemon.
NOTE: You can serve this fresh without letting it sit for two hours, but the flavors blend together better if you can let it sit for a while.