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Mystery vegetable.

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Hi guys! Back after a while away. You were great a while ago when I had a mystery veg, which turned out to be squash Got this unusual produce yesterday, green, knobby, about 7x2" or 18x2 cm for the world outside NAmer, but don't know what it is or how to use it. Does anyone know this orphan vegetable's name? Is it even a veg? Yours in suspense, Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

asked 6 months ago
13 answers 658 views
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cv
added 6 months ago

The picture is a bit small and hard to see, but it appears to be nopal (or nopales), a Mexican cactus. There are over a hundred species native to Mexico.

You can use Food52 search engine or a general purpose search engine (Google, Yahoo, whatever) for "nopales" for culinary suggestions.

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PHIL

PHIL is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

I think its a bitter melon. it is hard to tell because it looks flat in the photo but I don't think it is. Too gnarly to be nopales I think.

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Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

Phil, the vegetable is round.

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cv
added 6 months ago

Phil might be right. Is it cylindrical (bitter melon) or is it flat (nopales)?

The photo is so poor it's hard to tell.

Plus the Imperial-to-metric conversion is weird. You state that is 7x2" but then say it is 18x2 cm. Two centimeters is less than an inch, the conversion makes no sense.

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PHIL

PHIL is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

I saw something on TV about it. The Japanese on Okinawa supposedly eat it and live forever

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HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

more specifically, i think that's an Indian bitter melon, called karela.

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HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

more specifically, i think that's an Indian bitter melon, called karela.

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pierino

pierino is a trusted source on General Cooking and Tough Love.

added 6 months ago

Definitely not nopales which are made from a cactus paddle. It looks like bitter melon to me also. I know I've seen it before somewhere.

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Susan W

Susan W is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added 6 months ago

Looks like bitter melon to me. Nopales are flat and mostly smooth except where the needles are/were. I've not cooked with it (do you cook it?), but I have seen it often at H Mart, my Asian grocery store.

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cv
added 6 months ago

Okay, I have access to a computer with a large monitor (my initial response was posted from a small notebook computer) and it is indeed a bitter melon.

I can find them at several stands at my town's farmers market. I'm sure a search of "bitter melon" either here or a general search engine will turn up recipes.

There are several ways of reducing the astringency, I have yet found one adequate to work for my taste buds.

Intriguing vegetable, but I'm still scratching my head over how best to handle it despite the fact that a half a billion people on this planet probably enjoy it. I'm probably just a wimp. ;o)

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cv
added 6 months ago

I'll revise my statement. There are likely a couple billion people on this planet (world population is currently estimated at 7.4 billion) who eat bitter melon, not my weak estimate I made above. :-)

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Nancy

Nancy is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

Thanks for these answers. Now I just have to figure out how to cook. The game's afoot...(groan).

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HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added 6 months ago

Here's what someone did to lessen the bitterness of karela,
https://lovecookingfood...