Latin Fries, por favor.

Of course, the most popularly known are the French Fries, which aren’t really French, but I digress. In Panama, we eat tons of Yuca Frita (Fried Yuca). Sometimes they look like steak fries, or they may be chuncks of yuca. Regardless of how they’re cut, they’re delicious.

Check out this post for help picking and peeling the yuca. Once you’ve peeled the yuca, all you need to do is parboil it before frying.

In a medium pan, bring water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Then add the yuca, you don’t need to cut them to the size desired at this time. Allow it cook at a medium boil for about 8 minutes or until you’re able to pierce the flesh with a knife.

Remove from the water, drain and allow it cool before frying. Cut the yuca to the desired size. Heat up enough oil to deep fry the pieces, the oil’s temperature should be at 400¬į. Fry the yuca until golden brown, remove from the fryer and¬†¬†shake off excess oil. At this point you can reason with a little coarse salt.

Serve warm.

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.