Yuca Root is the food I’m discussing today for New Food Friday. This is a very unattractive-looking food. It is also called Cassava, Mogo, Manioc, Mandioca, and Kamoteng kahoy.
Yuca Root is dark brown and comes from the root of the Yuca Plant. The root looks yucky, doesn’t it?
The leaves of the plant are also eaten as they contain protein whereas the root contains very little protein. Although Yuca Root isn’t much in the “looks” department, its “personality” WOWS! In 2/3 of a cup of cooked Yuca, it provides 80% of your daily requirement of Vitamin C. It is also high in iron, providing 20% of your daily requirement. It doesn’t do too badly in the calcium department either earning a full 8%.
There is a lot of confusing information online and part of the problem is that there is also a plant called the Yucca Plant (spelled with a double “c”). Both the Yucca and the Yuca have edible parts but as far as I can tell from the information I’ve gathered, they are not botanically related! In any event, my time spent researching the differences has been fascinating!
I bought my Yuca Root at my local Meijer. The label attached to this vegetable stated that it could be prepared in the same way you would prepare a potato. Here are further Nutrition Facts.
This Yuca Root is a product of Costa Rica.
Originally a native to South America, Yuca Root has become an important staple of Africa. Although there are many varieties of Yuca Root, there are only 2 main categories: bitter & sweet. I would say this Yuca falls under the sweet category. You may be surprised to learn that Yuca is used as a thickener in the making of tapioca.
Store Yuca whole in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one week. Store peeled Yuca in the refrigerator covered with water or wrap and freeze for several months.
The thick skin of Yuca Root should be peeled and the fibrous core removed before using. (I forgot to remove the core because there was hardly any core to remove!) Do not use a vegetable peeler, the peel is thick and has a wax coating.
If you are short on time, as I was, you can peel the Yuca Root and put it in some water, cover, and place it in the refrigerator to use in a recipe for the next day or so. The water looks cloudy because of the starch in the Yuca Root.
The melissas.com website offers a soup recipe for Yuca Root along with Chayote (Remember that post?). I made the soup. Here is the recipe:
- 3 Chayote Squash (approximately 1 pound) peeled and sliced
- 1 Yuca Root (approximately 1 pound) peeled and diced
- 1 Organic Yellow Onion (approximately 10 ounces) finely chopped
- 3 cloves Organic Garlic peeled and chopped
- 6 cups Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock
- 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 Jalapeno Chile seeded and diced
- 1 teaspoon Cumin ground
- Salt and White Pepper to taste
- Organic Avocado diced for garnish
- Crema for garnish
In a soup pot, sauté onion, garlic, and jalapeno chile with olive oil for 5 minutes over medium heat. I used canned, whole jalapeno and diced one.
Stir in cumin. Add vegetable or chicken stock, chayote, and yuca root.
Bring to a boil and simmer for 35 to 45 minutes, or until yuca root is soft.
Allow soup to cool and then puree in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Reheat before serving. Garnish with avocado and crema.
I didn’t have any vegetable or chicken stock on hand so I added carrots, fennel, and celery to my pot, plus six cups of water. Then I added a tablespoon of Low Sodium Chicken Bouillon. I did not add any salt or pepper to the soup because I didn’t think it needed any. The jalapeno made it peppery enough and the salt from the Bouillon made it salty enough, at least for me.
I didn’t have any homemade bread to go with my soup other than cinnamon raisin bread, so I decided to make Tortilla “Chips” with tortillas I purchased at the store. I had corn and whole wheat tortillas. These chips are easily made.
Brush one side of the tortilla with oil. (I used olive oil.) Sprinkle whatever you like on them. I sprinkled grated lime rind and Mexene’s Chili Powder. (Mexene’s Chili Powder does contain some salt.) I didn’t sprinkle any extra salt on them because they already contain too much salt. I should have read the ingredients of the package more closely.
Then, cut them into wedges and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until they don’t feel “leathery” when you bite into them. They should be crisp. Watch carefully so they don’t overcook!
I was too hungry to let the soup cool and then puree in a blender according to the recipe! I was thinking about removing my vegetables and using my emersion blender to blend the Yuca and the Chayote but I decided I wanted to see what they tasted like without blending them. I wanted to know what the mouth feel would be.
Warning: NEVER eat Yuca Root raw. It contains hydrocyanic acid, which can cause cyanide poisoning. Thoroughly cooking the root removes the acid and makes it safe to eat. The sweeter Yuca is less toxic than the bitter Yuca.
After having eaten the soup, I’m still alive!
Ok, so I have a macabre sense of humor. Just remember that millions of people rely on this food to STAY alive! It is a staple food in many countries! It is also used world wide as animal feed.
As for the soup, the Chayote was very tender and melted in my mouth. The surprise was the Yuca. It had a great mouth feel. It was similar to the consistency of a boiled potato. Not the taste of a potato, but the consistency. Maybe even a little bit firmer. I was very glad I didn’t blenderize it. The soup was delicious! I served it with the chips and skipped the avocado and crema.
The bottom line is Yuca Root isn’t yucky! Shucks, according to information online it is pronunced yoo-cah. What killjoys. Can’t a girl have any fun? All kidding aside, try this soup. It’s different, low in calories, flavorful, and will warm you up!