Cactus in Red Chile Sauce
with Shrimp Patties

This is a very old recipe which still uses dried shrimp even though fresh shrimp are in great supply.


Red Chile Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, peeled and finely minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1/2 cup ground dried red chile*
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3/4 cup fresh nopalitos, cut into 1/4-inch strips and boiled for 15 minutes

* use mild, medium or hot chiles

Shrimp Patties

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ground dried shrimp
  • Vegetable oil, for frying


  1. Red Chile Sauce: Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onions and garlic in oil until golden, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add ground red chile, stirring constantly, for about 1 minute. Take care not to inhale the vapors from the chile. Stir in the water to make a sauce, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Fold in nopalitos and cook the sauce, stirring once or twice, for 5 minutes. Do not add salt to the sauce, since the shrimp patties are somewhat salty. Cover and keep the sauce warm.
  2. Shrimp Patties: Separate eggs by putting the yolks in a small dish and the whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until they are stiff. Continue to beat the stiffened egg whites as you add the ground shrimp and then the egg yolks to make a batter. Beat only until all the ingredients are blended.
  3. Heat 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium heat to approximately 400 degrees F. Ladle 1/4 cup batter into the skillet. It should float and begin to sizzle immediately. Fry the shrimp patty, turning once with a spatula, until golden, about 1 minute per side. Remove the patty with a slotted spoon to a large plate lined with paper towels and drain. Repeat the procedure until all the batter is used. This makes about 9 or 10 patties.
  4. To serve, pour red chile sauce with the nopalitos on each of 4 plates to make a pool. Place 2 shrimp patties in the center of each pool. Serve at once with rice and beans and warmed flour or corn tortillas, if desired.

Serves 4 to 5.