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Yuca Root a Main Staple For Millions

Yuca Root


Similar in size and shape to a sweet potato, this root can be anywhere from one to several pounds in size and can grow up to 4 feet below the ground.

The starchy flesh of the Yuca root is a light white or cream color with a grainy texture similar to potatoes but the meaty flesh is mild and sweet with somewhat of a nutty taste.

Yuca, pronounced Yoo-Ka, is the root of the Cassava plant that is available year-round. Yuca is known botanically as Manihot Esculenta. The name of this particular South American root has caused a bit of confusion due in part to its similarity to a desert plant native to the southeastern United States, the yucca pronounced Yuhk-a. The two are entirely unrelated, though the spelling is used interchangeably in texts and articles. The general rule is one 'c' for the tropical, starchy, South American tuber and two 'c's for the desert succulent. Yuca root is also referred to as Medioc or Mandioca and Tapioca throughout the tropical regions of the world it is grown in. In the United State, the name "tapioca" most often refers to the starch and other derivatives made from the root.


 Yucca root is the largest source of carbohydrates in the world and is considered a main food staple for millions. The starchy tuber is high in calcium. dietary fiber, potassium, and Vitamins B6 and C. Having relatively no protein, yuca does contain high levels of essential fatty acids and twice the calories of potatoes. The young leaves of the yuca plant are rich in Vitamin k and have more protein and nutrients than the root. 

Yuca root is gluten-free and the starch made from it easily digested by anyone with dietary sensitivities.

Yuca has been found to contain goitrogens, which are substances found in other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage that can block the intake of iodine by the thyroid. The presence of the goitrogens can increase the levels of iodine deficiency in areas where the Yuca root is the primary source of energy.  

Yuca has been referred to as the most versatile vegetable by some. Due to the compounds present in raw Yuca, the root must be cooked prior to consumption. Yuca can be used just like potatoes in many dishes, it can be boiled and pureed, mashed and roasted. A popular application for Yuca in Columbia and Venezuela fries. The root is cut into long, thick slices and is boiled first to a translucent state and cooled before frying. In Ghana and other parts of Africa, Cassava is used to make a traditional dish called fu-fu. Yuca is soaked in water for a few days (which can ferment the root for other uses like beverages)  and then mashed with a mortar and pestle and wrapped in banana leaves. 

The packets are steamed and served as bread with stews and soups or on its own. Yuca root from stores can be kept refrigerated or in a cool pantry for up to a month. It can be stored underground for a longer period. Prepared yuca root should be used within a day.


Golden Cassava fries with Siracha Mayo

35 min feeds 4


Cassava Friends:

4 pieces Cassava/Yuca root

2 limes, rinsed and sliced into wedges

4 pieces fresh thyme, leaves stripped

Canola or vegetable oil {as needed}

Coarse sea salt, to taste

Sriracha Mayo:

2 large egg yolks

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon dry mustard 

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Sriracha sauce, to taste

Flaked sea salt, to taste

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste


Cassava Fry Technique

1. Bring a stockpot of water to boil, add coarse salt until water is slightly salty to taste

2. Preheat a large cast-iron pot oil to 365 degrees F

3 Trim the tapered ends of the cassava root to reveal the cordon, slice root into segments of desired lengths

4. Stand the segments upright, remove the outer skin with a knife slicing downward, turning the segments until peeled.

5. Quarter segments, remove the core from each wedge with a knife, slice into uniform wedges of desired thickness

6. Blanche the cassava in boiling water 10-15 minutes or until tender

7. Gently remove cassava from water, drain, and spread out baking sheet to cool.

8. Working in batches without crowding the pan, gently submerge cassava slices in oil, deep-fry until golden brown

9. Wedge size will determine cooking 7-19 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove from oil, drain on a paper towel

10. Season with fresh thyme, salt, and pepper, serve with lime wedges 

Siracha Mayo Technique

1. Fill a medium saucepan with 1" water, bring to boil, inset mixing boil on top of saucepan without touching the water 

2. Combine eggs yolks, and 2 tablespoons water in the mixing bowl

3. Whisk constantly, over simmering water over medium-low heat until mixture begins to thicken, remove from heat

4. Add lemon juice, mustard, whisk to combine, then, while whisking, slowly pour oil into the mixture.

5. Add Sriracha, salt, and pepper to taste

How To Cut A Yucca Root

If you have never before cut a yucca root, you may feel a little intimidated. Well, if you follow me on youtube (Soul Alchemy) then you will see on my community wall where I shared a video on how to cut yucca root. However, I will tell you here.

Chop off both ends of the yucca root using a sharp knife.

Using a sharp knife, carefully slice down the full length of the yucca root

Start at the thicker end of the root (if one side is thicker than the other) and work your thumbs under one side of the cut

Once the root is peeled, chop into chunks

Be sure to cut off and discard any brown spots

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