Chef School – Lesson 2

This week I thought I’d share some tips to keep in mind when picking and preparing some of the tubers I’ve used in my recipes. Specifically, yuca.

I mentioned some of it when I wrote about the Lentil Soup, but I became quickly aware that it may be a bit overwhelming. Instead, I will go into greater detail here. This will serve as a good reference place when you pick these up.

Let’s start with Yuca (aka Cassava or Manioc).

What is it?

  • a shrub most common in Central and South America
  • a highly starchy tuberous root 
  • a great source of  carbs
  • the flour produced from it is tapioca 
  • has a dark brown, thick peel and milky white flesh when raw

How do I pick it?

If you’re buying it fresh, not frozen, you’ll have to inspect the roots. I’m not certain why, but here in the US they cover the outer skin with a thick waxy film. Here’s what I suggest:

  • check the peel–make sure it is evenly colored, without any dry or gray, ashy areas

  • pick thinner roots, no more than 3-inches in diameter
  • break it. You heard me. Break the root in half; you’ll feel like Superman

  • look at the flesh. You want it to be milky white and without blemishes. If it has black spots that look like pepper, skip it. Put it down and move on to another root. If it looks good, take it home

How do I peel it?

The peel is quite thick, it cannot be removed with a peeler. Here’s what you do:

  • cut the yuca into manageable sections; about 2-inches long

  • using a sharp knife, cut a slit from top to bottom on the peel of each section. The peel consists of 2 layers: the top layer is dark brown and thin. The 2nd layer is pinkish and tough. Make sure you slit through the 2nd layer until you hit the fleshy part

  • use the sharp edge of the knife and push the peel away

  • if you find any blemishes after peeling, shave them off with the knife 

That’s it, you’re ready to cook it.

Check out Lesson 3, it’s all about Otoe.

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7 thoughts on “Chef School – Lesson 2

  1. Thanks for the information about choosing and preparing fresh yuca! I’ve often seen it at the market, but never knew what it’s used for. I might buy some and try frying it as you suggested in another post.

    • I hope you will. Yuca is quite delicious. Cubans also boil it and serve it with mojo de ajo (essentially a garlic & olive oil dressing). It is awesome.

      I hope you’ll stick around, my ciabatta post will be coming soon and I owe it to you!

  2. Read this post most informative post of yours the other day in my reader. I had to come back to tell you a little story. Bought some yucca the other day and couldn’t resist snapping those babies! Thought of your post and almost lost it in the product department.

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