Yuca – What Is it and How to Cook It?

Deep Fried Cassava Root

Do you know what yuca is? Have you ever heard about it, and do you know you can prepare delicious dishes with it? Cooked yuca is something you need in your life; you are just not aware of it. 

If you want to know more about raw yuca, how to cook yuca, and many different dishes you can make with it, be sure to keep reading. 

What Is Yuca? 

Yuca is the root of the Cassava plant, and sometimes it’s also called the cassava root. It has a slightly earthy flavor because it is a root with nutty notes. So, it’s basically a root vegetable that’s long and tuberous, and you can make delicious dishes with it. You shouldn’t eat raw yuca because every part contains cyanogenic glucosides that are toxic to humans if not cooked. Cooked yuca is safe to eat because the cyanide content is removed when you peel the yuca roots and cook them.  

Many exciting recipes contain yuca from Latin and Caribbean cuisine and different parts of Africa and Asia.  

The Difference in Yuca and Yucca 

You’ll often see yuca roots called yucca, which is a mistake. Yucca is a plant, but it’s not related to the cassava plant. It bears edible fruits, but it’s mainly used as an ornamental plant. Yucca is a plant from the agave plant family, and you shouldn’t mistake it for yuca.  

Yuca Buying Guide 

Before cooking yuca, you need to know how to buy and store them. You’ll easily find it in Latin ad Caribbean grocery stores and food markets and some regular grocery stores in the produce section.  

Raw yuca shouldn’t have a sour smell or any soft spots; it has to be firm and a clean, fresh scent. The foolproof way to select the best yuca roots is to choose the firm ones to touch without any blemishes. If yuca has any strange lines, discoloration, or black specks when you cut it open, you shouldn’t use it, and you should discard it.  

If you can’t find raw and fresh yuca, there’s a possibility you can find it in the frozen section, peeled and cut.  

The best way to store yuca roots is to keep them in a cool and dry place for up to a week. And this goes for the unpeeled roots. If you peel them, you need to use them right away or put them in a container. Cover them with water, and keep them in the refrigerator. That way, raw yuca can last for up to three weeks if you change the water every two days. And if you want to keep yuca even longer, you can cut, peel and store them in the freezer for up to three months.  

How to Prepare Yuca 

The next logical step is to ask how to cut yuca and how to cook it, and it’s easier than you think.  

How to Cut Yuca 

How to cut yuca is trickier than cooking it. Before you do it, you need to peel it, and that’s when it gets tricky. If you thought that you’d peel yuca roots just like any other root vegetables, think twice. It would be best if you never use a vegetable peeler when peeling yucca roots because the skin is very thick, and it also has a wax coating that’s there for protection in transport. If you want to save your fingers and yourself from frustration, always use a knife for peeling yucca roots.  

To peel it efficiently and correctly, you need to rinse the root first and cut its ends off. You should peel the skin until you see the white layer of the root. If it is too big and can’t handle it easily, you can first cut it into two or more parts and peel it like that.  

The yuca roots have a core inside that you’re not supposed to eat. You can remove it from the cooked yuca, but it’s recommended to do it before cooking it. The core is hard and woody, and you’ll know what part you need to cut and discard. If you ever cut a core out of a pineapple, you’ll know how to do it with yuca too. When it’s peeled, and cut you can prepare a delicious dish with it or store it in the fridge or freezer.  

How to Cook Yuca 

There are various answers to the question of how to cook yuca. Cooked yuca is delicious due to the mild taste of the yuca root. You can prepare it following traditional recipes, or you can be creative and make something of your own. If you don’t want to overthink, you can always prepare it with potatoes or other root vegetables.  

You can always go for cooked yuca, but why not try fried, steamed, or roasted. Depending on your preferences, you can season cooked yuca simply with salt or be creative with various spices. Yuca fries are from out of this world, and you can snack on them alone or dip them in mouthwatering sauces. Or, for the future Sunday roast, you can serve mashed yuca with butter and sage instead of mashed potatoes.  

Many recipes contain yuca, and some of them are even bread recipes, and all of them are delicious. Interestingly, this root vegetable is used to make flour; that’s an excellent gluten-free substitute because raw yuca doesn’t contain gluten.  

If you want to boil yuca, you can do it the same way with potatoes. You should peel the yuca, remove the core and let them boil in the water until they are tender. If you cut the yuca into cubes, you’ll have to boil them for about 20 minutes. Once they are fork-tender, you should drain them well, season with salt, and serve. Or you can add all the ingredients you usually use for mash and make mashed yuca. And serve with some juicy steak.  

If you want to fry yuca, you should also boil it once you peel and cut it. But you shouldn’t boil it for longer than 10 minutes. Once you drain them, pat them dry, and fry them in vegetable oil. Once they are golden brown, place the fries on a paper towel, and sprinkle some salt over them. For the best result, you should deep fry them at 350 F. Remember, you should never overcrowd the pot and fry in batches.  

You can serve yuca fries with various dipping sauces like spicy mayo, salsa verde, or guacamole. Or anything that your heart desires. 

We want to invite you to visit us at Glass & Vine and try our twist on yuca fries. Once you try them, you’ll fall in love with this exciting root vegetable, and you’ll never want to get back to regular fries. Join us for brunch to discover new and exciting dishes that will tackle your taste buds. We are waiting for you at Miami’s favorite seaside restaurant.