Yuca/Cassava/ Manihot Esculenta

*Warning: Cassava roots are inedible when raw*

Cassava is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in Tropical and Subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root. It originated in Central, South America, Brazil, and was domesticated and widely distributed well before the time of Columbus. Subsequent distribution has established Cassava as a major crop in Eastern and Western Africa, in India, and in Indonesia. Cassava is a tall semi woody perennial shrub or tree with big palmately compound leaves. It resembles a castor bean plant (Ricinus communis). The dark green leaves are a foot or more across and have 5-9 lobes. The petioles (leaf stems) are very long, up to 24 in long and they are red as are the stems. Plants can grow more than 20 ft tall in frost free regions, but where they die back and regrow in spring they rarely get more than 10 ft tall.

The tuberous edible roots are 8-30 in long and 1-3 in diameter. They grow in outward pointing clusters from the base of the stem just below the soil surface. There are several named cultivars available. The primitive “bitter cassavas” contain large amounts of cyanide and need a great deal of processing to make their roots edible. The modern “sweet” cultivars require only peeling and cooking. The shoots grow into leaves that constitute a good vegetable rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals. New knowledge of the biochemistry of the crop has proved that the proteins embedded in the leaves are equal in quality to the protein in egg. Cassava leaves and roots, if properly processed, can therefore provide a balanced diet protecting millions of African children against malnutrition. Prepared in a similar manner as spinach, care should be taken to eliminate toxic compounds during the cooking process. It is best to boil them for at least 15-30 minutes and then rinse them with clean water.

-Cassava is famous for the presence of free and bound cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin. They are converted to HCN in the presence of linamarase, a naturally occurring enzyme in cassava. Linamarase acts on the glucosides when the cells are ruptured. All plant parts contain cyanogenic glucosides with the leaves having the highest concentrations. In the roots, the peel has a higher concentration than the interior. In the past, cassava was categorized as either sweet or bitter, signifying the absence or presence of toxic levels of cyanogenic glucosides. Sweet cultivars can produce as little as 20 mg of HCN per kg of fresh roots, while bitter ones may produce more than 50 times as much. The bitterness is identified through taste and smell. This is not a totally valid system, since sweetness is not absolutely correlated with HCN producing ability. In cases of human malnutrition, where the diet lacks protein and iodine, underprocessed roots of high HCN cultivars may result in serious health problems.- Source:hort.purdue.edu

Yuca Rallada al Mojo con Ajo/ Shredded Cassava  with Mojo and Garlic
*Mojo, is a name of various sauces used in the Caribbean and Canary Islands*

2 lb of Cassava fresh or frozen
3 thinly chopped garlic
2 Tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tablespoon lime juice
Sour orange juice
2 Hot chili pepper or to your taste, minced

Squeezes out liquid from shredded cassava root, put it in a large bowl. Make the Mojo in a mortar; pound it to a paste garlic, hot Chile pepper and salt, then mix well with the olive oil, lime juice and sour orange. Set aside. Slice the bananas lengthwise into 1/8 inch strips. Then, add a scoop of Cassava in each rounded banana strip, and drizzle with Mojo.

Cassava Pasteles or Pies

For the Dough
1 1/2 kilo of cassava
water and salt to boil
cornmeal for dusting (which is used to make polenta)

700 g ground beef
1/2 chopped onion
a bunch of green onions or scallions onions
1 small garlic clove
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/4 cup rice
a handful of parsley
salt, pepper and pinch of cumin
2-3 chopped hard boiled egg

The first thing to do is peel cassava, wash and give the longitudinal section. You can remove the fibrous center line before or after cooking. While cassava is cooking, let’s make the filling. In a medium pot, add cassava and salt to boiling water until slightly soft. In separate medium pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the meat and cook until just beginning to brown. Add onion, garlic, pepper and rice and continue cooking, stirring until well blended. Add a little water, salt, a pinch Cumin, parsley, pepper and beef broth. Cook over medium heat until done.

When cassava is cooked, remove it from the hot water and place it in the electric grinder. Next, mix the ground cassava with corn flour together. Make sure to use your hands and combine the mixture well, as this is the most important step. (This whole process should be done with hot cassava, it is easier)

Sprinkle a bit of corn flour on the table or board, spread a scoop of cassava paste and begin rolling into a disk 10-12 cm (4 inches) in diameter. Add the filling in the center, with a spoon of chopped hard-boiled eggs. Cover with another disc of dough, moisten the edges with water if necessary; press and seal. Fry in abundant oil on both sides over medium/low heat until golden. Let them drain on absorbent kitchen paper and serve hot!

About zoom50

“It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease”
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4 Responses to Yuca/Cassava/ Manihot Esculenta

  1. Zoom Zoom says:

    No problem. Go ahead, and thank you for reading. I'll check your blog out. Enjoy!

  2. Katiebell says:

    great recipes. I am going to try them as well!!!! I live in Florida, so Cassava is sold in all groceries. I never really knew how to make it, just that it was tasty from La lenchonera. thanks for the recipes!!!

  3. Zoom Zoom says:

    Thank you for reading. Cooked in various ways, cassava is used in a great variety of dishes. I just made cassava pancakes and they were delicious!

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