Yuca is an excellent replacement for white potatoes, especially as an alternative to french fries. French fries can take forever to cook if you are pan frying them, but these are ready much quicker. You can make yuca frita from either the fresh root or frozen chunks. I always prefer to work with frozen whenever possible (see here for more info about using yuca), but in this case it is a bit easier to work with the fresh root. The trick to perfectly crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside yuca fries is to cut them to the right thickness and not boil them for too long before frying.
- Yield: 2 to 4 Servings
- 1 to 2 lb (455 to 905 g) fresh or frozen yuca
- ¼ cup (56 g) fat for frying (avocado oil or lard recommended)
- Fine Himalayan salt
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
- If you are using fresh yuca, remove the peel with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Ensure that you remove all of the pink/purple layer beneath the tough outer peel. Cut the root crosswise into lengths of about 3 inches (7.5 cm). Cut each in half lengthwise and cut out the woody stem in the center of the root. Cut each piece into sticks about ¾-inch (2-cm) thick. Inspect the flesh to ensure it is pure white with no soft spots, discolorations or black speckles. Discard any such areas.
- If you are using frozen yuca, add the pieces to a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for several minutes, until thawed enough to cut. Drain and cut as described for fresh yuca.
- Place the yuca sticks in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat to a low boil and cook them for 10 to 15 minutes. They should be tender when pierced with a fork, but not falling apart. Drain the water and either fry the yuca sticks immediately or store them, covered, in the fridge to fry later or the following day.
- In a small to medium skillet, heat your fat of choice over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the yuca sticks and fry them for 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until they are lightly golden brown and crisp on the outside. Use additional fat as needed.
- Sprinkle with salt to taste and garnish with chopped cilantro. Enjoy alone or dipped in Salsa de Ajo or Salsa Rosada or another sauce from the “Los Esenciales” chapter.