One weekend, four yuca recipes
Yuca, tapioca, manioc in French, manyòk in Creole, cassava elsewhere…
Boiled yuca, mashed yuca, yuca garnished with cheese, yuca fries … yuca at breakfast, yuca at lunchtime, yuca at dinner … A never-ending yuca diet that drives me and my stomach nuts!
Such are my first memories of this root. I was a 16 year old traveling with a group of 400 young people from all over the world. Our first destination was the neighboring land, the Dominican Republic.
There, I discovered this root for the first time. Throughout our stay, we were fed yuca on a daily basis. This tuber was included on every menu, especially at breakfast. I quickly got sick of that repetitive diet.
In Haiti, we do eat yuca. We just don’t have it on such a regular basis. On rare occasions it finds its way to the table either in a stew or as a side dish, a vivre alimentaire as we say here. Never as a main dish.
I believe I can count on one hand the number of times I have encountered this root since my two-week stay at the neighbors’ more than fifteen years ago.
Yet, recently, I was tempted to give cooking it a shot.
My motivation? An #EditionManioc of a cooking contest organized for one of my clients at i7lab. A contest I wish I could be a part of. A contest from which I am unfortunately automatically excluded.
A chef’s explanation about this choice of manioc further enhanced my desire to be a part of the competition. He portrayed the root as one that can inspire many culinary adaptations.
I was far from imagining that the versatility he spoke of went beyond the fact that yuca comes in the form of a root, flour and cassava. An online search revealed that the root itself is suitable for both salty and sweet preparations. In addition, yuca is as much a dessert as it is a starter and a main course.
That was intriguing enough to convince me that I needed to be a part of that competition even if it had to be in the backseat through this blog. I had to learn how to prepare manyòk, and try recipes I never imagined existed.
It was with a mix of curiosity and skepticism that I decided to devote an entire weekend to this root I had never handled before.
On the menu: cassava pudding, yuca fries, yuca croquettes stuffed with herring, yuca bites stuffed with caramel.
Salty dishes. Sweet dishes. Exquisite dishes. Dishes, which recipe inspirations came from fellow food bloggers. Dishes that amazed and delighted me at once. Dishes diverse enough not to make a 16-year-old sick of them.
Dishes I will now let you savor through pictures.
My yuca adventure began with this cassava pudding, which is not new on the blog. You will find the recipe here.
Note that this time, in a spirit of adventure, I prepared it with cassava that come to us from Jeremie, a city south of Haiti. I also used a mixture of white and brown sugar. It is this combination that gave the pudding its caramel color, a color that inspired the accompanying sauce.
I served my pudding with homemade caramel sauce.
Yuca fries and cheese dip
As the pudding would spend an hour in the oven, I took the opportunity to try to cook the actual root for the first time ever. I fried a few cut pieces that I served with a cheese dip. That flavorful recipe awaits you below.
These yuca fries were crispy, crunchy and exquisite. A colleague even wondered why we don’t fry our yuca in Haiti. A question that I now ask myself as well.
The next day, it was time for the two dishes below.
Yuca croquettes stuffed with salez hareng
Inspired by these cassava cheese balls, chulitos, and cassava puffs with sugar and caramel cinnamon recipes, I prepared what I would call cheese and herring stuffed yuca croquettes. I boiled and mashed the yuca into a purée I seasoned with Tête de Maure cheese, salt, pepper, and garlic before rolling and stuffing it with prepared herring. I fried these croquettes in hot sizzling oil. A true delight.
Caramel stuffed yuca beignets
This adventure had to end on a sweet note. Intrigued by the recipe for cassava puffs mentioned above, I prepared what I’d rather call caramel stuffed beignets.
I was pleasantly surprised. These beignets were the most surprising and delightful preparation. I admit having been even more skeptical about this particular recipe than the ones above. I did not imagine that yuca could be turned into a dessert so easily.
You simply roll and fry mashed yuca balls before coating them with a sugar and cinnamon mixture, and stuffing them with a caramel sauce. The recipe is shared here.
The resulting bites are divinely delicious. The next time I prepare them, however, I will incorporate sweet spices and maybe even some caramel in the mashed yuca before frying it. That way the flavors will be enhanced.
With this excursion, yuca conquered me. I discovered a root that, without asking too much, adapts to both salty and sweet culinary ambitions. This adventure marks the beginning of my discovery of this tuber.
Yuca Fries & Cheese Dip
- Oil for frying
- Cream Cheese
- Hot Pepper Sauce
- Slice the yuca into fries
- Soak them in salted water
- Prepare the dip by mixing cheese, mayo, salt pepper, garlic and pepper sauce
- Heat the oil with a piece of garlic
- Drain the yuca
- Fry them into the hot sizzling oil until they crisp
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper
- Serve with the cheese dip
Croquettes de manioc fourrées de salez hareng
- Tête de maure cheese
- Salez hareng (find the recipe here)
- Oil for frying
- Boil the yuca
- Remove the inner membrane
- Puree the boiled yuca
- Season the puree with cheese, salt, pepper and garlic
- Using your hands, shape the puree into balls and stuff them with the prepared herring
- Fry in hot sizzling oil
- Serve hot