Don’t you just love it when inspiration hits from the most unexpected places! This is the story of how we came up with making yucas bravas for a crunchy side dish. Antonio and I recently came back from our first trip to Spain. We had been planning this trip for months and months, and with that came the anticipation of enjoying so much amazing food. So, when we got to Madrid we ate ALL the things. One of the best things that we had was a tapas dish called Patatas Bravas. This is typically small pieces of potatoes which are fried, and then dusted in a spicy seasoning. This is typically served with a spicy aioli. Now, I threw out the word spicy out there twice, and that’s because that’s the entire point of Patatas Bravas, which basically means Raging or Fierce Potatoes.
Coming back home after Spain we were in a little bit of a tapas withdrawal so we figured that making Patatas Bravas sounded like a perfect idea. However we, being the good Puerto Ricans we are, had a crazy idea. How about choosing to use yuca instead of potatoes!? This is where our Yucas Bravas comes in! I know, perfect idea right?
So for those of you out there that have never tasted yuca (or even heard of it), here’s a few interesting points:
1. It’s called Yuca in Spanish and Cassava in English. Yuca (Cassava) shouldn’t be confused with Yucca (with two C’s). Wait, what?! How about all those time you order yucca fries off the menu? Nope, they spelled it wrong. Yucca is a totally unrelated flowering plant that is not particularly edible.
2. What does it taste like? One of the things I like most about Yuca is the crunchy outside when fried. It’s a lot more fibrous than other roots like potatoes, which means that when fried it almost flaky on the outside.
3. It’s a tough one to peel and cut. But I’ll walk you through it as we go through the recipe, ok?
So before I start showing you how to make some delicious Yucas Bravas, you have GOT to see the most enormous Yuca we have ever seen. A typical Yuca is about probably about 8-12 inches long and not much heaver than a couple of potatoes. This sucker weighed a whopping 5 lbs and at least 20 inches long! So we are showing this picture so that you understand that most yucas won’t be as big as this.
This should not be you expectation, ok?!
So, let’s get to it! Vamo’ a cocinar!
First, cut your yuca in half or in thirds, however bug you want your yuca fries to be. They should be about 3-4 inches long.The yuca should be nice and white on the inside without any black lines running through the flesh.
Then, taking a sturdy vegetable peeler, peel the entire outside of the yuca so that absolutely no peel remains. Sometimes the exterior is too thick and waxy and you’ll have to use a knife.
Cut the 3-4 inch tubes in half lengthwise and drop in a boiling pot of water that has been seasoned with a little salt. Let the yuca boil for at least 15 minutes or until tender.
Take the yuca out from the water and lay over paper towels to remove excess water. The next step is important. Look at cut side of the yuca and you will see a long woody fiber that looks like a plant root running through the entire center. This woody fiber will be tougher than the rest of the boiled yuca. Take a fork or a knife and remove this fiber. This fiber would be unpleasant to bite on.
Cut the yucas in smaller wedges, as if you were making wedge fries. Once you make sure they have no water remaining, dunk into a deep fryer or a pot with a few inches of your favorite frying oil. Fry for a few minutes on each side until they are golden brown on the outside. Take out of the fryer and drain on paper towel.
At this point you have made yuca fries! If you’re really hungry you can just call it quits and eat them with your favorite dipping sauce. But I promised you
Raging Potatoes Yucas Bravas, so push forward because I promise it gets better!
Toss the yuca fries in the spice blend and shake off the excess. Stir together all the ingredients of the spicy dipping aioli and transfer to a dipping bowl. Now, it’s time to enjoy the crunchy exterior of the yuca fries with the spicy kick of the dip! Close your eyes and pretend you are in Spain… or the Caribbean, your choice!!
- For boiling yuca:
- 2 lbs of peeled yuca (fresh or frozen)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cumin
- For spice blend:
- 1 tbsp salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- For spicy aioli:
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves (minced)
- 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp tomato paste (or 1 tbsp tomato sauce for substitute)
- pinch of salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- Peel yucas to make sure all of the skin has been removed.
- Cut the yucas in 3-4 inch segments (or length you will want your fries). Boil for at least 15-20 minutes, until the yucas are tender.
- Remove boiled yuca from water and drain on paper towel. Cut the segments in half and remove the woody root that runs down the center of each half.
- Cut the halves in wedges as you would potato wedges
- Fry wedges in 365-370F oil for 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned and crispy.
- While the wedges are in the fryer, mix the salt, black pepper, smoked paprika, and chili powder in a big bowl for the spice blend.
- Drain the yuca wedges and toss in spice blend bowl. Shake off excess.
- For the spicy aioli, mix the mayonnaise, red wine vinegar, minced garlic, smoked paprika, tomato paste, salt and cayenne pepper in a dipping bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired for extra spice.