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.

Start by boiling the frozen yuca until tender; use a sharp knife to pierce the yuca to test its doneness, similar to testing potatoes.
Drain the yuca and leave to cool until they're no longer too hot to handle. Remove the woody stems from the centers and cut into fries.
Heat a big skillet filled with oil to 350F and fry the yuca until golden. Yuca crisps up easily and beautifully so you don't need to be really aggressive the way you do with french fries.
Drain the yuca on paper towels and season generously with salt while they're still hot.
Pile onto a plate and serve as desired. Different Latin American countries will serve their yuca frita with various sauces. I decided to make a citrus mojo, which is so quick and easy and really delicious with the fried yuca.
Finely mince garlic almost into a paste and add to a bowl with the lime juice and orange juice.
Season with a little salt and pepper and then vigorously whisk while drizzling in olive oil.
And that's the mojo, done. It's so fast and so simple and really delicious.
The yuca are super fluffy and soft on the inside while maintaining a gloriously crisp exterior; it's the ultimate fry. They're flavorful enough on their own but are even better as the base starch for your favorite latin meal. They're also really delicious when simply dipped in ketchup but I really like the mojo sauce. The citrus gives it a lightness that cuts through the oil but the garlic gives it a delicious savory flavor.
Here's the recipe page:


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