Yuca Fries Recipe Make Use of Marvelous Cassava Root

Reader Contribution by RenÉE Benoit
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 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.

Yuca Fries Recipe

Six servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds fresh yuca (aka cassava)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 – 3 cups light-tasting oil (canola is a good one)
  • Salsa, mayonnaise or ketchup as condiments

Directions:

Yuca roots come waxed. This is to preserve their freshness.

Waxed yucca root
Photo by Renee Benoit

1. Cut the ends off your yucca roots and then cut them into 4-inch cylinders, depending on the length of the yuca.

Cut ends
Photo by Renee Benoit

2. Make a shallow cut lengthwise into the skin of the yuca. Work your thumbs under one side of the cut. Once you’re underneath the peel, you can work your thumbs down the length of the root, peeling the skin off. If this does not work for you, stand the roots on end and slice the skin off as you would a pineapple.

Trimmed root
Photo by Renee Benoit

3. Bring to boil a pot with plenty of water and salt. Add the rounds to the boiling water. Cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain and let it cool.

4. Cut yuca pieces in half and remove the inner root. Then cut French-fry size sticks. Think steak fries size not shoe string.

Julienne root
Photo by Renee Benoit

5. Heat oil at least ½ inch or more in a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Fry the yuca fries in batches, turning once, until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

6. You can also cook them in an air fryer. Toss them with oil and fry as you would potato French fries.

7. You can also crisp them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 425º F and bake for 20 -25 minutes or until slightly brown, turning twice.

Yuca Fries are really good with anything you would serve French fries with like hamburgers or grilled steak.  

A word of advice: If you cut into one and find that it is not completely unblemished and white, it is not suitable. Look for brown streaks that indicate the root is overripe. You have to discard it. If there’s only a few blemishes you may opt to remove them and go ahead and cook normally.

Bad quality
Photo by Renee Benoit


Renée Benoit is a writer, artist, ranch caretaker and dedicated do-it-yourselfer who homesteads a small ranch in the southeast corner of Arizona near the Mexican border. Connect with Renée at RL Benoit, andread all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS.


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