Monday, July 25, 2016

Yuca Frita & Citrus Mojo

The past few posts and this one are all about deep frying. Well, whenever I set up to fry any dish, I try and make good use of the pan of shortening instead of throwing it out after one use. So, when I was in the mood to eat chipotle nacho beef but didn't feel like actually making nachos or tacos, I decided I would fry up some yuca.

My grocery carries fresh cassava (a.k.a. yuca) but I think it's a pain to process, or at least it seems that way from what I've seen on Chopped. So, I prefer to buy the frozen kind. The only thing to watch out for is pulling out the tough weird root-like stem thing running through the center; frozen yuca has been peeled but that stem hasn't been removed.

If you're going with fresh, make sure you buy one where the flesh is completely and beautifully white. It might be difficult to inspect but at my store, they already have the yuca chopped in half to expose the flesh which makes for easy inspection. There are plenty of authentic, useful resources out there that will help you navigate how to prep cassava so I'm not going to even attempt to make a guide when in all honesty, I've only ever dealt with frozen yuca. But it doesn't even matter because the frozen tastes just as delicious as fresh.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
yuca frita
1½ lbs. frozen yuca
oil for frying
+ salt to taste

citrus mojo
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons sour orange juice
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil

One v. important note is that you should never eat raw yuca. Yuca contains cyanide and is toxic in its raw form. There are several varieties of cassava, some of which are more toxic than others. Sweet cassava is typically what is available in groceries in the States (due to our proximity to Latin America) and this variety is the least toxic and is made safe to eat simply by boiling. Bitter varieties of cassava require days of soaking before cooking, but bitter varieties are typically found in Africa.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Funnel Cake

Every year in the field near my office, the town hosts a carnival. It makes me nostalgic for the town carnival I used to visit as a kid. My mom would give me $10 to spend, which would only give me enough tickets to go on maybe three rides and then the leftover would be spent on either kettle corn or funnel cake, depending on my mood. Funnel cake usually won out, since it was the less accessible option; popcorn is the more readily available snack, right?

These days, I'm not as keen on visiting carnivals - waiting on a 30-minute queue for a 30-second ride just doesn't have the same charm. But, that doesn't mean I can't still enjoy a good funnel cake. But, I avoid the crowds and the kids and indulge at home instead.

There are lots of recipes out there for funnel cakes made with a pancake-like batter but I'm an advocate for pate a choux batter. It yields really light and crisp swirls of cake that puff up beautifully. Plus, the batter keeps really well in the fridge so you can address your cravings after dinner for an entire week; if you're as gluttonous as I am, this aspect is probably the winning trait.
Ingredients [yields 6 to 8 small funnel cakes]:
½ stick butter (¼ cup)
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup flour
2 eggs
oil for frying
+ powdered sugar

Monday, July 18, 2016

Fried Calamari

The best fried calamari I ever had was in Barcelona at a restaurant by a manmade beach. It was particularly memorable because it was made with the tube portion and they were humongous. Like, 5" diameter huge.

These calamari were inspired by those Barcelona calamari. I purposely chose huge tubes to try and recreate the effect. To be frank, I missed the tentacles a little - the texture is different and enjoyable - but I liked the result nonetheless and the nostalgia was awesome.
Ingredients [serves 4]:
2 lbs. squid (tubes and/or tentacles)
¼ cup flour
¼ cup potato starch
¼ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne
oil for frying

dipping sauce
½ cup San Marzano tomatoes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch salt
pinch pepper
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