Yuca Fries Recipe Make Use of Marvelous Cassava Root


 Yuca fries
Photo by Renee Benoit

This story begins years ago when I was a kid growing up in Iowa. We didn’t have a lot of vegetable variety even though we had our own garden. It was the standard tomatoes, green beans, corn, what have you. The only time we had anything unusual was when my dad grew some cauliflower which turned out kind of green because his method for covering the heads was not fool proof.

Flash forward to 1969: I went to stay with my aunt and uncle in Hawaii for my first semester of college. What a revelation! The grocery stores were full of strange and wonderful things that I still, to this day, am not sure what some of them were. Some things I do know: guava, bitter melon, cuttlefish to name three.

Flash forward again to 1977: I moved to California where I lived for 35 years and the last 4 in the Central Valley. Here I saw all sorts of vegetable foodstuffs from across the border in Mexico. Jicama, prickly pear, tomatillo. Now that we’re in Arizona, I discover that we have Yucca Elata growing all over our property. Yucca Elata is also known as the Soap Tree by the indigenous peoples of this area. How cool! But what else could this thorny plant be used for? How about Yucca Fries? I have had those in Bay Area restaurants and loved them.

Not being savvy I did not realize that the cooks were talking about YUCA, not Yucca. Still ignorant I found pictures online and, lo and behold, I discover yet another vegetable that is completely delicious and one that I’ve seen in Central Valley grocery stores and had no clue what they were. This is the Yuca root, also known as cassava. It tastes very much like a potato and in nutrition is very similar. If you have a Mexican market near you, this root will likely be found there.

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