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Yucca Root (aka Cassava) info needed

I used to live in Arlington, VA, and there was this El Salvadoran restaurant (Atlacatl) that prepared yucca root a lot like french fries. They were really spectacular and I've never been able to find them anywhere again. Of course I tried to prepare them 2-3 times over the years but they just were not the same. Can anyone clue me in to the tricks of preparing yucca in this fashion? They appeared to be simply deep fried and served with salsa as a dip, but I'm not certain of that. Also, is there anything to know when selecting yucca in a produce dept?

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  1. I almost forgot - - they serve the darn things free to every customer.

    3 Replies
    1. re: MaxCaviar

      wow, free?! what is the closest cross street on columbia pike, please? ;-)

      as to cooking, you may need to do the proper french fry technique, basically an oil blanch, then cool, then a second deep fry at a higher temp. http://crystalstair.wordpress.com/200...

      or try this new approach, maybe: http://stickycrows.blogspot.com/2006/...

      1. re: alkapal

        sorry, i missed this msg i guess...

        The restaurant is Atlacatl and it's located at 4701 Columbia Pike
        Arlington, VA 22204. Closest cross street is Buchanan.

        1. re: MaxCaviar

          thanks, maxcaviar. best wishes in l.a.

    2. Yucca can be a very fiberous root and you may need to remove the tough core. It is a very hard root as well so take care when cutting it. It is very starchy so you could as with potatoes rinse well in cold water and keep them there if you plan to hold them for any time. You could par boil them prior to frying. Just remember to dry them well.

      You could also skip frying them and just boil them until tender and coat with a sour orange, olive oil and garlic mojo dressing.

      1. Check the frozen food section for them already peeled and ready to cook (follow package directions and skip to putting them into the fridge as follows). If you buy them fresh they should be cut into 2" to 3" long pieces. On the freshly cut end you will see the "ring" of bark that needs to be removed, it is about 1/16' thick, I use a knife or peeler. Once the bark is removed use your knife to score an "X" on each cut end of the yuca pieces (this helps them split later on). Drop them into boiling water and boil until they are soft and can be pierced with a fork or knife (20 to 30 minutes). They may also be splitting open at this point. The yuca can be served at this point with a simple mojo sauce of oil, lime juice, and fresh garlic spooned over the top. For the fries you like the yuca should be put in the fridge to cool. Once it is cooled, and the yuca is firmed up a bit, cut the yuca pieces in halves or quarters (it will naturally let you know what it wants) and remove the fibrous strip out of the very center. Squeeze the quarters (or halves) lightly in your hands to compact them. Drop them in oil to deep fry or you can pan fry in less oil, turning a couple of time until browned or golden. I, personally, like to use a mojo to dip the fried yuca in also, though my cuban ex-gf looked at me like I was putting ketchup on pancakes. You will find that how long you boil them (and how hard you squeeze them) for will vary the consistency of the final product considerably, from denser (less time boiling) to looser (more time). Good luck!

        1. Elgordoboy has good advice. If you need a more specific directions, there's a good recipe for yuca fries on recipzaar.com

          1. I ate a ton of cassava (aka manioc) in the Congo. Without it people would starve. The leaves are delicious, as are the roots. But I always ate cassava cooked by other people; I'm a bit afraid to cook it myself. Both leaves and roots contain cyanide.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava#...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Brian S

              There are rwo broad classes of cassava--sweet and bitter. The sweet has little cyanic acid and can be cooked and eaten without other processing. As an interesting aside, some women in parts of west Africa prefer bitter cassava because: a) you have an excuse not to dig up some cassava to serve to guests who pop by and b) less is stolen (thieves are usually men who will not do the "womens' work" of processing but who will cook up and eat sweet cassava).

              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I had my first taste of fried yucca last Mon. It was about 4 inches long, rectangular shape, with a nice crispy outside. I was surprised to take a bite and find it filled with a sweet creaminess. Very good! And it was offered at the beginning of the meal along with fried polenta, and bananas in a crumb coating and fried. All very good stuff!