What is Cassava?

Mainly used in Caribbean and Latin American cuisines, cassava is a tuberous starchy root that is typically used to prepare chips, bread, and as an ingredient in some stews.

Also called yuca, cassava is known for its chewy, sweet taste, which makes it a good choice for desserts. However, there is also a bitter variety of cassava, but it’s not usually sold to the general public and is used in starches and flours for cakes and breads. Part of a healthy diet, cassava is an energy-dense food high in protein.

How to Use Cassava?

The versatile ingredient makes for a great add-on to meat. It can be mashed, sprinkled with pepper, lime juice, and salt, and served with steak. There are a variety of cassava-based dishes such as deep-fried cassava, farofa, coxinha, and cassava cake. Some people use cassava to prepare dough for tamales, tapioca puddings, and empanadas due to its ability to thicken.

Preparing Cassava

Despite its potato-like appearance, cassava requires a unique cutting style due to its hard skin. It’s cut like a pineapple with a sharp knife as only the flesh is used. Cassava is usually pressed, soaked, or cooked before it is consumed as raw cassava can be poisonous. The skin of the cassava must also be peeled as it contains hydrocyanic acid, which can be irritating. Look for cassava flour and chips (which are the most common in the United States) in your local grocery store. 

Feature Image: Dian A. Yudianto from Pixabay

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