Experimenting with Yucca

by in Healthy Recipes, June 5, 2009

Mashed, baked, sautéed or fried — yucca is as versatile as potatoes. I decided to give this cool tuber a try after it popped up on a few Food Network shows and in my local grocery store. Find out how you can satisfy your starchy cravings with a side of yucca-fied fries.

What Is Yucca?
Yucca (a.k.a. cassava) is a long, cylindrical root with tough brown skin and rock-hard white flesh. It’s harvested in winter months and stores very well in a cool, dark place. Yucca typically comes from southern parts of North America and Central and South America, and it’s common in regional dishes. It’s been around for awhile; some say farmers cultivated it as early as 2500 B.C.!

Nutrition Info
Like potatoes and other tubers, yucca is full of starch and contains vitamin C (about 70% of your daily needs in a cup), B vitamins, thiamin and folate. One cup of raw yucca has 330 calories, 1 gram of fat, 4 grams of fiber and 78 grams of carbohydrates. Despite being rich in nutrients, this veggie actually has a very mild flavor. One big warning: You have to peel and cook this tuber before eating it — it contains toxic substances when raw.

What To Do with Yucca
You can cook with yucca just like you would with potatoes. When peeling and cutting, use a sharp knife and a sturdy surface – these babies are hard! Once boiled, you can then grill, sauté, mash, fry or puree the pieces. Yucca chips, which are made by thinly slicing and frying, have a sweeter flavor than potato chips. But keep in mind that they’re fried — eat only a handful. Try pairing up your yucca with lime, onion, cilantro or oregano for extra flavor without extra fat.

In my yucca “experiment,” I made baked yucca fries. You just slice raw yucca into thin strips, season with oil, salt and pepper and roast in a 425-degree oven until golden and tender. They were delicious, but definitely starchy – a few fries is all you need. Lighten your cooking load by using bags of frozen yucca from your local grocery store. They’re already peeled, chopped and blanched, which makes them the perfect time-saving option when cooking for a crowd.

You might see tapioca flour at the market sometimes. This powdered starch, a common thickening agent used in soups, stews and pie filling, comes from its root.

Oh and I was just browsing the TV listings. Yucca is one of the secret ingredients on Food Network’s Chopped on June 6 (airs at 3pm). I’m curious to see what they do with it.

TELL US: Have you tried yucca? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

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Comments (42)

  1. shannon says:

    my favorite way to eat yucca is how my columbian step-dad prepares it. he serves it in baked chunks (like potatoes) with a sauce over it (i think he calls it ahi) made up of ground peanuts, water, red pepper chunks, and chunks of avacado. it is so delicious, and so creamy you would sware there’s cream in it, but it’s just the peanutes ground to a sauce with water.

  2. Krikri says:

    Actually, this is more than an experiment. The meal you presented is an advanced, perfect recipe. Yucca recipes are rare – there are more chicken recipes than Yucca. But fewer number of recipes give us more room to experiment and develop outstanding recipes. You did well with the warning – Yucca is potential poisonous. It contains the deadly poison cyanide. But once it is cooked, its safe.

  3. Susie says:

    OK..The questions and or comments I make will make it so very obvious that I do not know what the Tucca plant looks like, yet I do enjoy those Yucca Chips from Trader Joe's and would like to find a way to make these myself without all the salt and oil I know that is "thrown" in while proessing these chips.

  4. Susie says:

    I liive in Arizona and I have so many many Yucca Plants (which are large green plants with different color flowers that "shoot up" from within and outside of these beautiful plants.
    Where do I find or how do I find the 'right' Yucca plant to eat?? Are the ones in my front and back yard (red, yellow, orange etc. in color-flowers) edible? LOL Please know I am naive as to where to find this ''food' i.e. plant, as the question I jiust asked certainly shows this LOL.

    • adan says:

      My dear friend, the confusion starts from the fact that two plants have similar names “yucca”; which is as I understand it an agave type plant, and “yuca” which is a totally different plat and that its roots are in a way, like potato (not exactly like potato, just the closer thing I can think of )lol

  5. Susie says:

    I jjust LOVE the taste of Yucca Chips and have had nothing else to compare the chips with, as I have never tried to find "Yucca' to use in receipes because all I thought was it was some type of root which made YUMMY chips. Any ideas or info on where to shop for Yucca would truly be a blessing and many thanks go out to those whom do think I am sme kind oif "nut," for asking such…awww…corny questions…Thanks ALL and Peace

    • adan says:

      Depending on where you live, you can find yuca in the frozen food section of some supermarkets, (I recommended this way, because I find it to be the best way to guarantee the quality of the product) usually its imported from Costa Rica. It comes already pealed and ready to cook… still lol…

  6. danawhite says:

    Hi Susie – The edible portion of Yucca is the thick root. I recommend getting them from the store –or maybe a local farm if they're available near you just to be on the safe side.

  7. nelle b says:

    I live near a vietnamese store that serves little wheat free dairy free cakes. only 4 ingredients yucca coconut milk, mung bean (supposedly mashed and sugar. i have yet to whip up these little cakes but i have severe allergies, and kidney stone and i swear by my yucca topped with creme of coconut! yum!

  8. kevin says:

    It's Yuca, Yucca is a different plant

  9. Janie says:

    What is the difference in the yucca and the yuca?

  10. Janie says:

    Thanks for telling me it was poison when raw. I just dug up some yucca and wondering if it was the same as in the store I was going to cook it. I did taste of it raw and it was sweet and tasted good. But I will not do that again if it is poison. Thanks again you may have saved my life! Ha! But very true. Janie

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