Crispy yuca fries also known as cassava fries are very popular in Congo. They are soft, but still have a good textured contrast. They are very simple to make with just two ingredients. These fries can also be fried in cooking oil or rendered lard for extra flavour.
In Congo, they usually are served as an appetizer or snack with boiled or roasted peanuts. Yuca fries is common street food in Africa and often served at cafes to satisfy those with an appetite for something more substantial than traditional thin french fries.
What does yuca (cassava) looks like?
Yuca is a root vegetable that looks like a green potato. It grows in the tropical forests and has a very similar taste. It is related to yams, taro, and beets. Yuca tastes like potatoes, but has none of the starchiness of potatoes and is very low in calories.
In some African countries including Congo, we also eat the leaves. These leaves have different names depending on the region in Africa: pondu, saka saka, kaleji, nsombe, etc.
What are the different ways to cook yuca (cassava)?
Yuca can be eaten in many different ways. You can boil it, fry it, dry it or roast it, etc.
There are so many delicious yucca recipes that I grew up eating that I would definitely share with you.
What are yuca’s health benefits?
Yuca is very low in calories, a good source of iron and is gluten-free. It contains high amounts of vitamin C and potassium. You can learn more about its benefits here.
Yuca is sometimes used as a substitute for potatoes. It can be boiled, baked, roasted or fried like potatoes.
In Congo we majorly use it to make flour or boiled. In many other countries, yuca is made into flour used to make bread or porridge.
Yuca can also be cooked in coconut milk and water for a creamy flavor to make “mashed potatoes”.
How do you know that the root (yuca) is still good?
Although yuca tastes a lot like potatoes, it is still possible that the root does not taste good or it is spoiled.
To make sure that the root (yuca) is still okay to eat, touch to the outside to make sure that it is still firm. Once it is soft, it is too late to cook it. Another way of verifying it is when you cut it, the flesh should be all white without any blue or grey ring.
How do you cut yuca?
To cut the yuca, you should use a very sharp knife and a cutting board.
I start by cutting the root into 4-5 inches pieces. I make a lengthwise incision of 1/4 inch on each piece and slowly lift the peel with the knife blade. The whole peel with come off without breaking. I find this method easier and less messy. I would emphasize though that you should be very comfortable with a knife before using it.
An interesting fact about yuca is that it has air pockets inside that help keep it from spoiling as fast as potatoes do.
How do you store fresh yuca?
At home, yuca can be stored in a cool darkish area in a paper bag.
I recommend cooking it within 2-3 days after buying it.
How do you make crispy and soft yuca (cassava) fries?
First, I start by washing the yuca and cutting it into 2 inch wedges. I keep them in water to get rid of any dirt or sand. Then, I then boil the yucca for 25 min or until tender with some spices, herbs (cilantro, celery, nutmeg, garlic powder, etc). For this recipe, I used cilantro but you are welcome to use any herbs or spice to flavour them.
You will know that there are tender by sticking a butter knife through them without resistance.
Finally, I fry them in a sauce pan with canola oil until they are golden. You can also deep fry them if you wish to do so. You will get soft and crispy yucca fries that would just melt in your mouth!
Can I bake yuca instead of frying it?
You can bake the yucca instead of frying them. To do this, I would suggest that you prick the yuca with a fork or knife and then place it on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake in oven until tender and golden brown (30 min-45 min). Cool completely before eating.
How do you store leftover yuca?
Drying the yuca makes it last longer in storage. You can dry them in the sun, over a stove, or in a food dehydrator. When they are completely dry, I store them in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
When you cook yuca for long periods of time, it will start to discolor, but if you cut open a portion of the cooked yuca root, it will look fine again.
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