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Grilled Carp Nopales (Cactus Paddles) Recipe

This delicious dish features grilled carp and cactus paddles (nopales), and you serve it with toasted tortillas, avocado, and freshly made pico de gallo.

Grilled Carp Nopales (Cactus Paddles) Recipe

Grilled carp and nopales topped with pico de gallo and avocado slices. (Photo courtesy of Rydell Danzie)

Print Recipe

Nopales, the green cactus pads from the prickly pear cactus, can be eaten raw or cooked. In this recipe, nopales are grilled whole (without the spines) and then loaded with grilled and seasoned carp and fresh pico de gallo.

Yield: 1 loaded nopal per person
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-14 minutes


  • 1 pound deboned carp strips
  • ⅓ cup lemon olive oil (or regular olive oil)
  • Any salt-based rub/seasonings that suit your taste
  • 1 tablespoon bacon grease
  • Dethorned nopales (cactus paddles)
  • 3 slices pineapple
  • 1 lemon or lime
  • Tortillas
  • 2 avocados

Pico De Gallo:

  • 1 red onion
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 lemons or limes


  1. Gather all of your ingredients and pull your carp strips from the fridge.

    vegetables for carp nopales recipe
    Vegetables for Grilled Carp Nopales Recipe. (Photo courtesy of Rydell Danzie)
  2. Pat dry the carp strips. Toss them in lemon olive oil, season with your favorite rub/seasonings, and set to the side. If you don’t have lemon olive oil, you can use regular olive oil.
  3. Prepare your pico de gallo. Dice the red onion, tomatoes, avocados, jalapeño, and serrano peppers. Chop the cilantro. Add everything to a bowl. Mix well. Add garlic salt to taste. Juice two lemons/limes into the pico de gallo. Cover the bowl and let it sit in the fridge.

    pico de gallo ready in a bowl
    Pico de gallo ready in a bowl. (Photo courtesy of Rydell Danzie)
  4. Heat your pan or wok on low. I use a wok outside, but you can use a cast-iron pan on your kitchen stovetop if you’d like. Whichever you decide to use, coat the pan with a tablespoon of bacon grease.
  5. Before the pan gets too hot, add the nopales (cactus paddles). Cook for 5-7 minutes on each side.
  6. Now, it’s time to cook the carp! Turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the carp strips and slices of pineapple to the pan. Stir and toss frequently adding about 3 tablespoons of lemon juice each time. Don’t forget to flip the nopales. The nopales are ready when there is no more liquid coming from them and they are sort of crispy on the outside.

    seasoned carp stips
    Seasoned carp strips on the grill. (Photo courtesy of Rydell Danzie)
  7. Grab your tortillas. Dip the tortillas in any juice in the middle of the pan/wok and place them on the side of the wok. This will add a quick crispy toast to the tortillas. If you do not have a wok, you can use a separate pan for the tortillas.
  8. Pull everything from the heat. Load up each grilled nopal with carp strips. Top with pico de gallo and fresh slices of avocado.

To learn more about the authors of this recipe, Rydell Danzie and Vero Rodriguez of Field to Grill aka F2G, visit:

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