This yuca was a spontaneous purchase I made yesterday while at Wholefoods. It's a long thick root that looks like a giant sweet potato with a waxy scaly skin. I've never cooked it before and have only eaten it a handful of times and yet this staple in many parts of the world called to me as I was heading to the cashier.
Yuca also known as "cassava root" is the the tuber below a cassava plant. According to Wikipedia, "the cassava plant gives the highest yield of food energy per cultivated area per day among crop plants, except possibly for sugarcane". Both the leaves and the roots are eaten, and the roots are turned into flour which is used to make tapioca, boba, bread, etc.
But there's a catch: it contains a compound that turns into cyanide in the presence of an enzyme found in the plant. The leaves have a particularly high concentration of this compound but it's also found in the roots. Luckily, cooking renders it harmless, so just make sure it's cooked all the way and you'll be fine.
It's got a texture somewhere between potato and pumpkin with a slight sweetness. Doused in olive oil and dressed with a garlic yogurt mojo sauce, it makes for a great side for fish and meat dishes. The tart yogurt and lemon give it a nice light taste while the potent raw garlic adds a ton of peppery flavour.
How do you like to prepare yuca?
- Add the yuca to a large pot of salted water and bring to boil. Boil until you can pass a fork through a piece of yuca. You want it cooked through, but you also don't want to over cook it as it will lose its shape.
- Mash the minced garlic and salt together to form a paste then add the yogurt and lemon juice. Stir to combine.
- When the yuca is cooked, drain and dump into a bowl. Add copious amounts of olive oil while gently tossing until the surface of the yucca is slightly shiny. Plate the yuca and pour the yogurt mixture on top. Scatter some cilantro leaves on top and grind a little black pepper to finish.