Saturday, April 26, 2008

CASSAVA OR YUCA --- WHAT IS IT?


CASSAVA OR YUCA! What is it? What's the code? This is the question I always get when I buy yuca/cassava at Whole Foods market. The cashier scrambles to ask other cashiers to know what is this 'thing' called and to search page after page in her or his book for the code to enter. If I buy it at an Asian or a Hispanic market, of course, the cashier usually knows what it is. No question was asked. It is not very American at all, isn't it?

I grew up eating yuca in Indonesia. It's a root that tastes very similar to potatoes. There is a waxy film covering the root (I think it is to preserve it's freshness). After it is cut horizontally into chunks, the brown and waxy outer layer can be removed easily with a knife.

I like eating yuca, deep fried, just like thick French Fries. Indonesians have many ways/recipes to prepare yuca. We eat them as snacks. It can be prepared salty or sweet (as desserts).


I usually boil yuca in salty water for about 20 to 25 minutes. I tried the pressure cooker, too, which only take 3 minutes (under pressure). Below is my garlicky yuca recipe. This dish can be eaten just like it is (boiled). Or, the gravy (sauce) can be drained and then the yuca is deep fried until they are crispy. DH who loves fried food loves deep fried yuca. Boiled yuca looks soft but it becomes hard and crispy when it is deep fried.

Garlicky Yuca/Cassava

1.5 lb yuca/cassava (prepared as pictured)
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tsp. table salt
3 cups water or enough to cover it entirely
1 tsp. oil

In oil, sauté
garlic until fragrant. Add the yuca chunks, water and salt. Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. The water will become a bit thick like gravy.

I have other recipe I adapted from Bryanna's recipe. I receive this recipe after I emailed Bryanna about the Peruvian restaurant we visited one day, called Inka Mamas. One of their menu items is called YUCA ALA HUANCAINA. Of course, Bryanna has a recipe for this dish with potato, instead. She said I can replace it with yuca. It's an appetizer consists of lettuce, corn, carrots, olives, and deep fried yuca smothered with 'cheezy' warm sauce.







YUCA ALA HUANCAINA (A PERUVIAN YUCA DISH)
(adapted from Bryanna's recipe)
Serves 6

1 Garlicky Yuca/Cassava recipe (above), deep fried

White Sauce ingredients:
1/2 pkg. Mori-nu Silken Tofu, Firm
1 cup soy milk
1/2 to 1 cup water
2 Tbsp. non-dairy margarine/Earth Balance
2 Tbsp. unbleached flour

1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 an onion, minced
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1 Tsp. minced jalapeño
a pinch of nutmeg
a pinch of white pepper
2 Tbsp. Bill's Best Chiknish
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 tsp. salt


6 to 8 large lettuce leaves
18 black olives
12 2"-long chunks of cold cooked corn on the cob
12 2"-chunks cold cooked carrots

White Sauce:
Combine silken tofu, soy milk, and 1/2 cup water in a blender. Blend until smooth/not grainy (take a few minutes). Melt margarine/Earth Balance in a small sauce pan on a low heat. Add flour and combine until thickened. Scrape flour mixture into the blender. Blend until smooth.


Sauté the chopped onion, hot peppers and turmeric in the olive oil until the onion is soft. Stir in the white sauce, chicknish, spices, salt, and nutritional yeast. Keep warm. If the sauce is too thick, add the remaining water (or add more) a little each time until desired consistency.

On each serving plate, place a lettuce leaf. Place a few chunks of deep fried yuca (still hot) on each lettuce leaf. Place a few olives, 2 chunks of carrots, and 2 chunks of corn around the yuca. Drizzle the yuca with the sauce, distributing evenly. Serve immediately with more sauce, if desired.


I used the left over sauce on top of Tofu Benedict(toast, tofu, vegan sausage, caramelized mushrooms, and grilled tomatoes) for breakfast and it's delish!




Yuca tastes just like potatoes. If you can find it, don't be afraid to cook it and try it!

12 comments:

John Plummer said...

This looks great! I had yuca for the first time a few weeks ago at a Cuban restaurant, and I am excited to try cooking with it - thanks for sharing these ideas!

Spice Island Vegan said...

Thanks John! I am glad you like yuca. I will blog about Vegan Cuban food next time. I recently was cooking food in this style.

Anonymous said...

and if you wanted to keep the skin(?) how would you get rid of the damn wax?

Andrew said...

I used to go to Brazil a lot, and they use yucca as the main ingredient for "farofa". Every meal has rice, bean (feijoada), and this powdery topping farofa. It's delicious and it differs from place to place. Some are crunchy, garlicky, etc. See this in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farofa

There is another recipe where you fry the yucca pieces and then coat them with brown / palm sugar. Recipe please??

(the Blogger's brother)

(the skin is toxic I believe)

Gigi said...

Hi! I am originally from Peru and I was searching online if I can actually find my tasty Yuca in the States! and I found your blog!
So I canfind Yuca at whole foods, right? No wonder I looked for in other stores and did not find it!
Very lovely your Yuca a la Huancaina recipe! from my native Peru, ;)
Thanks for your blog I will subscribe!

Gihala said...

this is Gigi, I just subscribed to your blog, =)

Spice Island Vegan said...

Gigi,

Thanks for subscribing! Yes, you can also find yuca at markets that are visited by a lot of ethnic consumers such as Stater Brothers ( I don't know if there is a Stater Brothers near you). I also find it at Latin/Mexican markets.

SIV

what is vegan said...

Wow, I'm just trying to learn more about a vegan diet, but these recipes look amazing. I'll have to head over to the market and see if I can find some Yucca today!

Torontolgy said...

I was looking up recipes for yucca and found your post. My parents are from Colombia and they used to boil it in soups or fry it up along with plantain as a side dish.

I bought some today at my local grocery store and the cashier had no idea what it was. Her supervisor came over and I told her it was yucca and she said no, it was something else. In the end, after looking it up, the supervisor gave up and told the cashier to just ring it up as yucca. Ha!

sowmyaayyar said...

hey wow! i am so excited about finding this blog. it seems culturally appropriate. thanks!

Anonymous said...

These sound great!!! I grew up eating yuca and my favorite is fries, but we don't deep fry them.

We boil them first, let them cool, cut into fries, then crisp the outside in a frying pan with just a little olive oil coating the bottom.

I can only imagine how good yuca fries will be now when I boil them with garlic as in your recipe. And I can't believe this never occurred to any of us before!

But I have to disagree with you - yuca does not taste like potato. Potatoes wish they tasted like yuca!

Anonymous said...

You should note that yucca and yuca are two different things. Yuca is cassava root which is the potato-y type in that they are starchy and get softer when cooked. Yucca is a spiky ornamental plant that I am not sure is even edible (it looks like it would hurt to eat).