The paddles, or nopales, of the prickly pear (or nopal) cactus are sold in Mexican markets and many supermarkets, usually with their stickers already removed. They have a flavor that recalls both sorrel and asparagus and are used in salads, side dishes and with eggs. Nopales are easy to prepare: Using a swivel-bladed vegetable peeler or a small paring knife, carefully cut away any stickers and their "eyes." Trim off the entire outer edge of the paddle, including the base end where it was attached to the cactus. A sticky fluid will exude but will disappear when cooked, or it can be rinsed off.
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