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Yucca Shopping Tips
Look for vegetables that are firm and bright in color – avoid those that are wilted or have wrinkled skins, which are signs of age.
Yucca Cooking Tips
Different vegetables have different cooking times – cook each type separately and then combine.
Yuca Con Mojo + Fried Yuca Patties
I've written before about my love of tropical nightshade-free starchy roots and tubers. If you can get your hands on malanga, taro, or yuca, you won't miss potatoes! I've got a recipe for how to make a mashed potato substitute out of any of these, which is great as a side dish or as a topping for shepherd's pie.
Today, I'd like to share a traditional Cuban preparation for yuca, simply called yuca con mojo, yuca with "sauce". Last week I posted a recipe for the delicious sour orange + garlic marinade/dressing known as mojo criollo, which is exactly what you use to bathe the boiled, tender, yuca for this delightful dish!
And just as an FYI: yuca, cassava, manioc, and tapioca are all the same thing. But not yucca -- that's a shrub related to agave :)
Yuca con Chicharrón
Yuca con chicharrón refers to one of the popular foods in El Salvador, as well as Honduras, which is made of yuca (cassava) served with raw cabbage with lemon, then topped with chicharrones, tomato hot sauce and mojo, made with a mixture of oil, garlic, onion, spices such as oregano and bitter orange or lime juice.
Yuca con chicharrón consists of boiled or fried pieces of yuca root mixed with raw cabbage and served with pork skin deep fried until it is crispy goodness.
Yuca con chicharrón is a side dish that is usually served with soups, tamales, or carneada (roasted meat).
Yuca frita is made from a tasty root vegetable known as cassava. Cassava is a starchy root and so is similar to a potato in terms of taste and texture, although the preparation method is more involved. It is first steamed and then deep fried to a golden brown. Cassava is a good source of calcium and vitamin C.
Yuca frita can be described as a slightly sweeter, firmer version of potato and while a very different experience from potato fries, the two are comparable.
It is served topped with pickled cabbage salad, homemade salsa and chicharron, or pork chips.
How to make yuca con chicharrón
The yuca with pork rinds is a typical dish of Honduras and El Salvador (similar to the vigorón of Nicaragua) in that its preparation is to cook the yuca with a little salt until it is soft. The chimol is prepared by chopping into small squares and mixing the tomatoes, onion, green chili hot pepper, salt, pepper and vinegar or lemon.
The cabbage is finely chopped and then washed with hot water or with chlorinated water. The yuca can be eaten warm or hot. Place pieces on a plate and add it in order: cabbage, chimol and finally chicharrón pieces. It can also be done with pork leg in tomato sauce instead of chicharrón or both.
Yuca with chicharrón is also one of the most popular Guatemalan dishes in the eastern part of the country. Especially in Chiquimula and Zacapa, where they consider it as one of their local specialty.
What is chicharron?
Chicharrón (plural: chicharrones) is a dish generally consisting of fried pork belly or fried pork rinds. Chicharrón may also be made from chicken, mutton or beef.
Chicharrón, as a dish with sauce, or chicharrones as finger-food or snack, are popular in Andalusia in Spain, Latin America and other places with Spanish influence including the Southwestern United States. It is part of the traditional cuisines of Bolivia, Portugal (where it is called torresmo), Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guam, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and others.
The singular form of the term or a variant of it is also used as a mass noun in Filipino and Tagalog, in which stand-alone plurals do not exist. Chicharron are usually made from various cuts of pork but sometimes with mutton, chicken or other meats. In some places they are made from pork ribs with skin attached and other meatier cuts rather than just rinds.
The pork rind variant is the skin of the pork after it has been seasoned and deep fried often to a crispy, puffy state. Other styles may be fatty or meaty, not fried as much, and sometimes attached to ribs or other bones.
In Mexico, they are eaten in a taco or gordita with salsa verde. Serving styles vary widely, including main course, side dish, filling for tortillas and other bread, the meat portion of stews, and as finger-food snacks.
In Bolivia, chicharrón is made of pork ribs seasoned with garlic, oregano and lemon. It is boiled then cooked in its own fat, adding beer or chicha to the pot for more flavor. Pork chicharrón is normally served only on Sundays and is eaten with llajwa, a tomato salsa, and mote, a type of corn (maize). There are other variations of chicharrón made with chicken and fish.
In Costa Rica, chicharrones are made by frying pork (usually ribs) in fat, and are associated with several dishes. Most Ticos usually eat them with rangpur or lime juice and fried yuca, accompanied by tortillas. It is also a main ingredient in a popular dish called chifrijo, which also combines red beans, rice, and pico de gallo. Another popular dish in Costa Rican cuisine that includes chicharrones is the vigorón.
In the Dominican Republic, chicharrón – especially the chicken-skin version, pica pollo – is usually eaten with tostones. It is prepared by washing and drying chicken and cutting it into small pieces, which are seasoned with a mix of lemon juice and salt. The batter is made from flour, pepper, paprika and salt in a plastic bag, in which the seasoned meat is then placed and shaken. Pieces are deep-fried, without removing excess flour or skin.
Pupusas are often filled with chopped chicharrón as a stuffing, the same way it is used in Mexico for tacos.
What is chimol?
Salvadorans usually serves the yuca con chicharron with a side of chimol. Chimol is a Salvadoran salsa. It requires minimal ingredients but has an impressive flavor profile. This fresh salsa is commonly used as a topping on foods such as grilled animal proteins (steak, fish, and chicken) or served as a tortilla chip dip. Chimol goes well with absolutely anything. Salvadorans love using it with anything bean related, eggs, and in burrito bowls or with tacos of any kind. It is a great way to add some simple, nutrient-rich pizzazz to any old plate of food.
Chimol is similar to Mexico’s pico de gallo, but made even simpler. Different countries throughout Central America will have their own version of chimol. They are all quite similar but will vary by a few ingredients and by name.
What is yuca?
Yuca or cassava, is a major staple food in the developing world, providing a basic diet for over half a billion people. It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. In the US, the name “tapioca” most often refers to the starch made from the yuca root.
The starchy flesh of the yuca root is a light white or cream color with a grainy texture similar to potatoes. The meaty flesh is often described as having a mild, sweet, somewhat nutty taste. You can prepare it in the same way you would a baked potato, though it’s important to remove the skin first. Yuca has a high starch content which makes it rather dry, so including a sauce like chimol helps. A common way to prepare yuca is to make oven-baked yuca fries or boiled in water and then fried with onions and peppers.
When you add these three components together, the yuca, the chicharron and topped with the chimol, you get one of El Salvador’s most iconic dishes, yuca con chicharron. A dish definitely worth the wait!
Cook The Yucca: Peel yuca, split in half crosswise, and cut into 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick batons. Immediately place in a pot and cover with broth and water then add garlic and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender and yuca is starting to fray, about 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and pat dry.
The yucca will oxidize and turn brown if you don't immediately put it in water. I like to just put it in the stock mixture in the pot I'll cook it in.
Make The Mojo Mayonnaise: While yucca is cooking, combine mayonnaise, cilantro, lime juice, jalapeño, and honey in a mini food processor and process until smooth. Season to taste with salt if necessary. Set aside.
Mayonnaise can be made up to a 1 day ahead. Store covered in a refrigerated container until ready to use.
Fry The Yucca Once yucca is drained, heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, Dutch oven, or large wok over medium-high heat. Once the oil has reached to 350°F , adjust heat to maintain temperature. Add one-quarter of the yucca and cook, agitating and flipping every minute, until golden brown and crisp, about 3 to 5 minutes total.
Transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt. Repeat with remaining yucca then serve with mayonnaise and a few lime wedges.
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Aida is a food and travel expert, author, chef, Food Network personality, founder of the travel services company, Salt & Wind Travel, and partner at the creative agency and educational platform, Border Free Media. She has made her career in food travel media and hospitality and has crisscrossed the globe to search out the best food destinations.
After graduating from the Cornell Hotel School and Le Cordon Bleu Paris, she joined CHOW Magazine where she ran the test kitchen and worked as Food Editor. Aida then moved to television, hosting the Food Network show, Ask Aida, FoodCrafters on the Cooking Channel, In The Pantry on Yahoo!, and the TasteMade series, Off Menu. Her cookbook, Keys To The Kitchen, is a go-to for home cooks who want to become more adventurous cooks and the Travel Guides For Food Lovers series she has co-authored are beloved among food travelers.
Through Border Free Media, Aida shares the lessons she’s learned as an entrepreneur with other creative businesses. From teaching our Cooking Club classes to cohosting our group trips, in all that she does Aida aims to help discerning travelers taste the world.
Is yuca toxic?
As long as you peel your yuca thoroughly, yuca is safe to eat. However, it is important to know that it does contain a natural poison in the skin:
Something to know is that all cassava produce toxic cyanide, but the two main edible varieties produce it in different amounts. “Sweet” cassava is the root most often sold for home cooking and has its cyanide concentrated near the surface. After peeling and normal cooking, it is safe to eat. “Bitter” cassava has cyanide throughout the root and can only be eaten after extensive grating, washing, and pressing to remove the harmful toxins. Bitter cassava is not typically sold for home use, especially here in the US, and is more commonly used to make tapioca and other cassava by-products. (Source and read more at The Kitchn)
Garlicky Yuca Is the Mashed Potato Substitute You've Been Searching For
Every Thanksgiving, Mindy Fewless and her 30 family members gather in Lakeland, Florida, infusing their Cuban roots into a flavorful holiday spread. For more of Fewless' family recipes, check out these black beans, Abuela's flan, and a refreshing mojito for the adults at the table.
to 2 pounds Yuca, peeled and cut into 2 1/2" chunks
plus 1 tsp. kosher salt, divided
small yellow onion, finely diced
1. In a large saucepan, place yuca and 1 Tbsp. salt. Cover with room-temperature water and bring to a boil over high heat.
2. Reduce heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover, and cook until fork-tender, about 30 minutes. Drain.
3. Remove woody &ldquostring&rdquo from the center of each yuca piece. Arrange on a serving platter.
4. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook olive oil, garlic, remaining 1 tsp. salt, and onion until garlic and onion soften. Pour over yuca and toss to coat.
Grilled Yuca with Garlic Mojo Sauce
Move over potatoes! There’s a new sheriff in town: Yuca. If you never tried one before, you’ll be delighted with amazing flavor and crunch. Yucas are very versatile, they can be boiled, fried, baked, mashed and even grilled.
In this case, I brushed them with a spicy garlic mojo sauce and then grilled until crispy. The extra mojo is used a dipping sauce.
Mojo Sauce is an easy dipping sauce similar to a chimichurri. It’s full of herbs, garlic, and onions. For this particular recipe, I added Hot Sauce for an extra kick of spiciness and flavor.
If you’re not a fan of spicy food don’t worry. The recipe below gives you the awesome flavor without your ears turning red. If you’re like my husband and love eating hot foods, just add more sauce.
The reason why I grill my yuca, aside from the awesome crispiness. Is because when I am grilling meats, I don’t want to use my kitchen at all. The idea is to be outside enjoying company without having to miss out because I am inside in the kitchen.
To start out your Grilled Yuca with Garlic Mojo Sauce, you need to peel and boil your yuca until fork tender. Then you cut them into long sticks and give them a nice coating of mojo sauce. You can do this in advance and just grill when needed.
Even though they are ready, resist the urge eat them.. In this case, your patience will be rewarded. Now that your yuccas are nice and smothered, it is time to take the party outside and place them on the grill.
My gas grill has a second rack up top that works perfectly for the yucas. If yours doesn’t have one, just place them away for direct flames. On the cold spot of your grill.
Close the lid for a few minutes and voila! Grilled Crispy Yucas that will blow your socks off. Don’t forget to save some of that delicious Mojo Sauce for dipping.
What I love about this dish is that the garlic mojo sauce is impregnated into each yuca before cooking. That gives it much flavor and crunch with every bite. After you try one (or two) you will never go back to potato fries again.
I hope you can give this delicious Grilled Yuca with Garlic Mojo Sauce a try. If you do, please upload a pic on Instagram and tag me @Livingsweetmoments or use the hashtag #LivingSweet.
Ingredients for this Cuban-Inspired Yuca Recipe
YUCA (about 1 lb.)
1 Lg ONION (diced)
5-10 cloves GARLIC (finely chopped)
OIL for sauteing the onion and garlic
RED PEPPER FLAKES to taste
2-3 Tbsp CUMIN
½ cup OLIVE OIL
juice of 1 LEMON and zest
SALT to taste
CUMIN SEEDS (1 tsp, optional) I like using Badia seeds ’cause they’re a great buy, and you can check current prices for Cumin Seeds on Amazon.
…I’ve got lots of yuca, so in the video I’m doubling this recipe
This Drink Is Basically Straight Alcohol and Is Perfect for Tailgates
It's tailgate season (for real, who actually cares about the football?Not me). If you're tailgating, chances are that you're there to get drunk—not for the football. And as a college student, you probably aim to drink in the cheapest manner possible. Now, I'm not part of Greek life but plenty of my friends are or are associated with it. And (somehow) I end up regularly tailgating with a couple fraternities on campus.
Every fraternity I've tailgated with has at least one tailgate tradition, but the one I practiced most last year has what we called the yucca tradition. We'd take a gallon (sometimes two) of yucca supplied by one of the brothers and stand in a circle chugging it until it was finished.
I had no idea what yucca (as a drink, not a plant) was before they introduced it to me. It tastes disgusting. But it gets the job done. It's basically straight liquor, but it's more palatable than shots.
Maybe I can stand it because I'm partial to citrus. Who knows? For the purpose of taking photos for this recipe (and my own health), I didn't make a group-serving of this—that wouldn't have ended well.
Garlic does better when cooked over low heat, where the taste gets milder, yet deeper. Cooked at high temperatures garlic becomes bitter, so keep this in mind when you use garlic in marinades for grilling or roasting.
The taste and aroma of garlic also change depending on how fresh it is. Ironically, fresh garlic tastes and smells milder than older garlic. Past a certain time, garlic may develop a green stem inside the cloves that some people find overpowering, but you can discard it and still use the garlic. Garlic can be used as an unpeeled head (like in roasted garlic), or by slicing, mincing, or crushing the individual cloves - each depending on the intended effect.