California Cooking: Cactus Salad, Mango Salsa, T-Bones

At home in Portland, I spend a lot of time cooking. So what do I do when I go visit friends in the restaurant-rich Bay? Cook with them, of course. (For the record, I did also go out for Mexican and a delicious brunch.) Taking advantage of a huge and fun California produce market, we made two great meals.

First, a salad with Nopales (or Prickly Pear) Cactus. Quite tasty! The cactus reminded us just a little bit of okra with it’s flavor and slightly slimy texture when cooked. I did some limited research, and it turns out both okra and succulent cacti are mucilagenous plants…but I’d need a more botanically inclined friend to weigh in with more on this relationship. Cactus Salad

The next night, after another market run with another friend, we grilled up a tasty meal of T-Bones with grilled Jicama and mango salsa. These T-Bones went much better than the last ones, since I knew to be wary of touch-testing and we went with the blood drop method for doneness.

T-Bone with Mango Salsa and Grilled Jicama

The grilled jicama was kind of unexceptional on its own, even with olive oil and chili powder, but it proved a wonderful vehicle for the mango salsa (mango, red onion, red jalapeno, cilantro), which was a great success. I creditthat largely to the mangoes — Manila mangoes. I had never seen these before, but if I ever do again I will buy a dozen. Yum.


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