Yuca or Yucca is something I remember eating as a child in Northern Nigeria We simply called it Cassava and it was often served boiled with a stew. In other parts of Nigeria and West Africa as a whole Yucca is very common and often sold pre-cooked in the form of a flour or flakes called “gari” or “garri” which can be further cooked to make various dishes. In secondary school I remember the Yoruba children eating it as a cereal with water & sugar or having it cooked to form a yellow colored dough called “eba.”
In the Western world did you know Yucca is used to make tapioca? Yucca is also used to make flour and breads commercially. It is a great alternative for those who have to eat gluten free.
Living in the USA for over 20 years I never bought Yucca, even though I saw it in some of the Asian & ethnic grocery stores. I wasn’t a fan of the bland boiled version of Yucca from my childhood. Then my family and I traveled to Key West Florida in 2015 and I had Yucca Fries….mind blown! Now I can’t get enough of them. How did I miss eating something so delicious! There is nothing like eating hot crispy Yucca fries with a side of ketchup while strolling down a boat lined boardwalk on a bright sunny day!
OK almost as good was eating Yucca fries at a Brazilian restaurant in New York city last fall.
Who says you have to travel far to eat golden Yucca fries? Let’s make it in the comfort of our own kitchen. Check out your Asian, African, Latin or Caribbean grocery for this brown tubular shaped root covered in a waxy tough skin. Yucca is a great source of dietary fiber and vitamin C among other things.
Now you must know a few important things before you prepare Yucca.
Yucca must be cooked well for it to be safe to eat. Apparently cassava or Yucca can produce varying amounts of cyanide! Yes cyanide! I remember the first time I told my very American husband & children this fact they were apprehensive and wanted nothing to do with eating Yucca. But don’t worry people have been eating it for years and when prepared well it is totally safe for human consumption.
Have a sharp knife ready or potato peeler. Make sure you peel off all of the skin and any reddish discoloration right under the skin. Make sure you cook it until it is tender and has the consistency of a boiled potato. This may take about 20 minutes. Once boiled, cool & drain the Yucca. Split the boiled piece of Yucca into 3 or 4 pieces and remove the fibrous core. Lightly season with salt & pepper before frying to a deep golden yellow color.
Enjoy hot crispy Yucca fries!
(Watch me prepare it here )