What, you really thought I would mention making two other Puerto Rican dishes and not be nice enough to share? Especially since they are SO.good? Think again. (Okay, well maybe I'm a little tempted to keep these for myself.)
Yuca is simple, plain, unassuming brown tuber. Easy enough to walk on by it in the grocery store. If you are lucky enough to have a grocery store that carries it. Which I am not. Oh no, I had to drive half and hour each way out to a Market District just to find these. The first time I made them anyways.
That's right, I made these twice. See, mofongo was actually not my first dish of choice for the second challenge in Project Food Blog. Originally, I was going for alcapurrias, a traditional Puerto Rican fritter with several types of pork and seasonings cooked together then fried inside a batter made from taro root and bananas or plantains. Well. Let's just say it involved a major fail, a slight temper tantrum, and the "oh crap, now what do I make?" realization. That was the actual reason I drove over an hour for groceries (taro root and plantains don't exist at my usual grocery store either).
While perusing the produce section for taro root and plantains, I came across yuca (which is also known as cassava) and all I could think about were these amazing yuca fries we had at La Flor de la Canela, a Peruvian restaurant, when we were living in DC. Good thing yuca is also a staple food in Puerto Rico because this baby was coming home with me and I was going to find a way to incorporate it into my meal.
Well why not fries? I was frying (or at least attempting to) alcuparrias, it wouldn't be too much extra work to throw some fries in. Not to mention I love that I think I'm eating a typical ol' french fry until that oh-so-subtle sweetness hits. Mmmm tasty.
1 2-pound yuca (cassava) root
2 teaspoons salt
Fill a large skillet with frying oil (vegetable works fine) to a depth of about 2". Attach a thermometer to the pan and bring oil to 375 degrees F (this is assuming the oil will drop to about 350 while cooking).
Meanwhile, peel the yuca, removing all the brown skin. Cut off the ends. Slice the yuca into roughly 3" sections (the yuca is very firm and hard to cut). Cut each section lengthwise into 1/8s (so it resembles french fry wedges). Try to keep the sizing as uniform as possible.
Place all the yuca into a large saucepan. Fill the sauce pan with water until all the yuca is covered. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until all the yuca is fork-tender (a fork should easily sink into the yuca when poked). Remove from heat and drain.
Once the oil is at temperature, add about 1/4 of the yuca into the pan with oil. (Be careful not to overcrowd.) Fry for about 5 minutes, or until the outside of the yuca starts to turn light brown. The outside should be crispy while the inside is mushy. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
Disclaimer: Yuca contains linamarin and lotaustralin, which are broken down by enzymes in the root producing hydrogen cyanide. Not exactly friendly stuff (read: it can kill you if you eat enough). Don't be scared though! The yuca you typically find in stores is the sweet yuca (the bitter yuca is generally used more for commerical purposes) which contains FAR less of the nasty stuff. AND simply boiling this guy will eliminate the toxicity. Whew! Glad we got that covered. In short -- don't eat this raw.
Of all the dishes I made over the course of attempting my second PFB challenge, I honestly think the yuca fries were my favorite. The light sweetness is really balanced out by the starchiness of the yuca and the salt. Please don't try these first time with ketchup or some other dipping sauce - the sweetness in these is so light it's easy to get covered up. I actually prefer just eating them plain (or with a slightly spicy cheese sauce).
|Nutrition Facts - Assumes 10% absorption from 4 cups of oil|
|Amount per serving|
|Calories 556||Calories from fat 202|
|% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 22.4g||35%|
|Saturated Fat 4.5g||22%|
|Total Carbs 86.3g||29%|
|Dietary Fiber 4.1g||16%|
|Vitamin A 1%||Vitamin C 78%|
|Calcium 4%||Iron 3%|