A trip to another country is always a great vehicle for renewed inspiration, wouldn’t you say? I’ve just returned from four delicious days in México City, touring la cuidad as fast a I could with an intimate group of other gourmands. I did some extraordinary eating which invited personal conversations with chefs and diners about the history of certain dishes. I’m quite familiar with Mexican cuisine, but their place in the culinary world is rapidly becoming more haute and the sexy thing to enjoy, so I’m relishing in learning more and more about its genesis, evolution and technique. While I process everything I came across and experienced on this particular trip, I was inspired to go back to my own Cuban basics. Yuca is one of those ultra rudimentary, rustic but ubiquitous vegetables that is never turned down. Atleast en mi casa. There’s nothing spectcualar or fancy about root tuber. But, its versatility is what makes it a favorite in my kitchen.
All you need is garlic, onions, oil and lemon. There you go.
I’ve played with yuca quite a bit, but admit that I stick to the more popular recipes like this one, a simply boiled stash with a ridiculously good garlic and citrus mojo. There is absolutely no science to this recipe. It’s just really good, robust and filling. The magic of this recipe is all int the mojo. The white onions and fresh garlic, paper included, are sautéed to a perfect tenderness. Top that on your boiled yuca and saturate with fresh lemon juice. TO.DIE.FOR. No lie was ever told when talking about this! Forgo rice when you eat this dish.
The only simpler yuca recipe I could think of are chips…but you can buy those at any Latin American mercado. Blah! Oh, and fried yuca…those bad boys make it to the menu of all festive parties… check that one out.
So, the connection between Mexico and my yuca recipe? Facíl. Yuca will be on the mind as I sift through the different fine meals I had in Mexico and be the inspiration behind designing new recipes. Sensible, delicious but culinarily forward dishes where yuca is highlighted. I mean, there are hundreds of refined potato recipes, so why not this variety? Even the French, who I pull a lot of ideas from, eat manioc and have a plethora of dishes they enjoy as well. You know I’ve got plenty storyboards to create based on those two cuisines alone!
I’m looking forward the figurative juices flowing and coming up with some newness. However, this yuca dish is going nowhere fast. All things fail, this remains to be a tried, true and classic star! I think you should make it and fall in love!
I even did a super low-low budget VIDEO almost 5 years ago demonstrating how to whip this up. Go on and laugh. I sure do every time I click on it!
YUCA con GARLIC MOJO
- 1 1/2 lbs yuca root, halved & in chunks
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 garlic cloves, mashed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Juice from 1 lemon
- Juice from 1 lime
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, finely chopped
Place yucca in saucepan and add water until yucca is just covered. Add salt and lime juice and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until tender—about 30 minutes. Drain and keep warm. Mash garlic cloves into salt with mortar and pestle. You may use a food processor or garlic hand-press. Add garlic, lemon and limejuice, and onions to olive oil in a separate pan. Sautee until garlic softens. Toss yucca into sauce and cook on medium heat until golden brown.
*Chef's notes: If fresh yuca root is not available in your local supermarket, you can opt to buy frozen bags which have peeled, washed and cut chunks. Flavor is not sacrificed! A fantastic alternative if working with limited time. See video for an example.