If you are tired of the same french fries for lunch, here is a great swap: cassava fries with mojito sauce.
First let me clarify this: yucca root and cassava are the SAME things. Here in Portugal it’s called mandioca. It’s a starchy, tuberous root that is used as a major source of carbohydrate in many countries.
In Venezuela we love cassava. I can’t think of a better side dish for parrillas — grilled meat. It’s pretty versatile like potatoes. You can bake it, fry it or just boil it with salt and you get tasty and easy side dish.
Yucca root is well-known in Central and South America. Venezuela, México, Brazil — mandioca— and Perú are some of the countries that use cassava for daily dishes.
In Venezuela, for example, we have
Another popular recipe made with yucca root is cassava fries and in my house, they were served with mojito sauce. A green spicy sauce made with fresh herbs and garlic. It’s pungent and strong but I LOVE it. In case you want something milder, you can use cilantro garlic sauce that is
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How to peel the yucca root (cassava)?
Please be careful when peeling the yucca. It can be a challenge by itself. Especially if you don’t have a Latin mom around.
Honestly, my mom has an unnatural ability to peel cassava. It’s like art. She makes it look so effortlessly.
A small confession: I cut myself once trying to peel cassava because I was convinced that It was just like peeling potatoes. And I was sooooo wrong. My mom’s kitchen looked like a crime scene.
So, after this —painfully — lesson, I learned the right way of peeling it. If you have the correct technique it is kind of easy.
First, cut the edges of the yucca root. Then, cut the yucca crosswise into two or three sections. Then, make a superficial cut lengthwise to cut the tick peel of yucca root. Make just enough pressure to cut the peel. Finally, separate the peel from the yuca with the help of a knife.
I will add a video below to show you the process because I know it’s a bit confusing reading the instructions.
Finally, cut the peeled cassava into sticks that are a bit thicker than regular french fries. The cassava sticks don’t need to be perfect.
Can you cook yucca root like potatoes?
Yucca root is way harder than potatoes. As I explained before, you can’t even peel it like a potato.
When frying cassava you need to boil them first. Otherwise, you’ll end up with hard cassava fries that are basically inedibles.
I boil the cassava for 15 minutes. They must be 80% soft but firm. The core can be a bit hard, it will end the cooking process whilst frying.
Then, you can fry the cassava as regular fries until they are golden and crispy.
Mojito sauce recipe
Mojito sauce is a bold herb sauce that is pretty easy to make. It’s quite similar to Argentinian chimichurri sauce.
The sauce has a base of oil, vinegar and lime juice. The acid will emulsify the oil. Then, the flavor is basically onion, garlic — a lot —, cilantro and parsley. This will ad its characteristic green color and that pungent flavor.
This is a sauce that is usually used with grilled meats and cassava (fried or boiled).
- 1 big yuca root
- Vegetable oil to fry as needed
- 1 tbsp salt
- 4 garlic cloves
- ½ onion
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro
- ¼ fresh parsley
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple vinegar
- 1 lime
- Pinch of salt
Peel the yucca root and cut it into pieces that are slightly bigger than regular french fries — about 1/2″-3/4″ sticks. You can see the pictures as a reference. The sticks don’t have to be perfect.
In a pot boil enough water to cover the cassava sticks. Add 1 tbsp of salt and the cassava sticks. Let them boil for 15 minutes.
In a pan add enough vegetable oil to cover partially the cassava fries. Fry the cassava sticks until they are golden and crispy in all sides.
In a food processor add all the ingredients for the mojito sauce and pulse until you get a chunky sauce. You don’t want a liquid sauce. Serve along with the cassava fries.