You notice there is a new vegetable on sale in your local grocery store. This long, dark, tubular looking root is called a Yuca (pronounced, YOO-KA). What could you do with this vegetable in the kitchen and most importantly, what does yucca taste like?
The root of a yuca when prepared properly has a starchy taste and is grainy, similar to a sweet potato. It has a mild, nutty and sometimes sweet fleshy meat that is wrapped around a tough, fibrous inner core. This core, along with the skin, is bitter and inedible.
What is Yuca?
Yuca is the root of the cassava plant and comes in long, tapered roots that look like yams, sweet potatoes, and darker skinned potatoes. The roots have a dark outer skin that must be grated or peeled off. This skin is bitter and inedible. Tapioca comes from the starch that is extracted from the yuca root.
The Taste of the Yuca Plant
The yuca root has a lighter cream colored flesh that has a starchy taste. This plant also has a grainy texture, similar to cooked potato. This makes it easy for the yuca to take the place of potatoes in recipes such as potato fries and potato wedges.
How to Prepare Yuca
A yuca root should be washed and peeled, or grated, to remove the outer skin. The root should be cut into two inch sections and boiled for about forty five minutes or until the fleshy meat is malleable. The fibrous inner core should then be separated from the usable yucca meat.
A Note on Why Yuca Must be Cooked Properly
Yuca must be properly peeled and cooked before consumed. This is because raw yuca is considered poisonous. There are compounds in raw yuca that are called cyanogenic glucosides and these can cause a release of hydrogen cyanide which is extremely toxic to the consumer.
How to Use Yuca in a Meal
Yuca can be made into fries or wedges just like potatoes. These fries or wedges can be baked or fried. A simple recipe tro try yuca for the first time:
- Peel and boil 2 medium sized yuca roots
- Remove the core from the root after 45 minutes of boiling
- Cut into chunks and season with a splash of olive oil, minced garlic, salt and pepper
- Serve hot
How to Store Yuca
Similar to sweet potatoes, the yuca root can be stored in air tight bags and frozen. Yuca can be stored at air temperature for a week or two before use. Cooked, the yuca can stay good in the refrigerator for up to five days and in the freezer for up to six months.
The yuca root comes from the cassava plant and is a large and tuberous vegetable. This is considered a poisonous food when consumed raw and must be peeled and cooked correctly to avoid becoming ill. Yuca tastes like a starchy potato, and is also grainy in texture much like a sweet potato.