Yuca (Cassaba, Kasava) is the tuber root of a tropical plant brought from South America by the Arawaks. On their journey up the Caribbean islands, they brought the roots with them to cultivate in their new settlements. Tapioca and cassareb are both made from Cassava. There are two varieties of the plant, bitter and sweet. Bitter Cassava is poisonous until cooked and is used mainly to make a tort called “Casabe”, which looks like a thick tortilla and was the staple of the Taíno Indians (tribe found by Columbus in Hispaniola). This simple meal made the conquest of America possible.
The sweet kind is the one usually sold in the US and may be purchased in some supermarkets and most Latin food stores. The Taino Yuca God was their most powerful deity.
Peel yuca with a potato peeler, wash and pat dry with paper towel.Cut into pieces about 2 X 2 inches. Place in a pot with enough cold water to cover. Boil until tender. When tender, add salt, 1 teaspoon per every litter of water. Mash with a potato masher, or place in food processor, adding milk, butter, and pepper to taste. (If you mash in food processor do not mash too long since it makes the yuca mushy.) Yuca must be eaten as soon as it is ready as it is very starchy. Serve as a side dish instead of potatoes, or with eggs, sausage, or bacon for breakfast or dinner, or use to make your favorite dish.
About 2 pounds yuca
Milk, butter, salt and pepper to taste (it is hard to say how much because it depends on the yuca and how much milk it will take.
1 pound Monterrey Jack, or Havarti cheese
2 eggs, separated
Follow instructions for mashed yuca. When mashed, add milk, butter, and pepper. Add grated cheese. Beat in egg yolks. Beat egg whites until dry peaks form and fold into mashed yuca mixture, very slowly, long enough to mix but not to deflate the air bubbles in the whites. Bake in souffle dish at 350°F. until top is golden, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately.
BOLLITOS DE YUCA CON QUESO - YUCA AND CHEESE CROQUETTES
2 pounds boiled yuca
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 pound cheese (Mozzarella or Monterrey Jack)
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, beaten
Oil enough to fry
Mash yuca adding butter, flour, and eggs. Place in your hands about 1 tablespoons of mashed mixture. Place in the center a stick of cheese. Round out like a croquette. Sometimes it is necessary to flour your hands before you start if the cassava is not very dry. Fry croquettes in oil 400°F. for 5 - 6 minutes or until golden. Drain in paper towels and serve.
2 pounds yuca
1 cup shredded cheese (Parmesan or Mozzarella)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Enough oil to fry
Peel, wash and dry yuca with paper towel. Shred in food processor with coarse blade in order to get sticks. Place in water to cover for about 30 minutes prior to cooking. Grab with hands small amounts of the sticks, squeeze out the water, and drop in hot oil. Fry until golden brown and toasted. Remove and drain on paper towels. While hot sprinkle with cheese.
Peel yuca and slice, crosswise as thinly as possible. Steep in cold water for about 30 minutes. Drain, and dry on paper towels. Fry until delicately browned and crisp in deep oil heated to 370°F. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with salt, and serve instead of French fries.
ARAÑITAS or AREPITAS DE YUCA (Yuca spiders)
1/2 lb yuca, peeled and grated in the larger side of the grater for arañitas, or the smaller for arepitas.
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds
oil for frying. I like peanut oil but you can use the ones you like.
Mix all the ingredients together except the oil. Heat the oil. Spoon mixture into the oil. Oil must be deep enough to almost cover arepitas. Fry until golden on one side, turn over and cook the other side until golden. Take out and place on paper towels to drain some of the oil. Serve hot.