Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Manioc/Cassava/Yuca for Breakfast

Today, I cooked the tuber known as manioc or cassava or yuca.  It's known by several names, but I grew up calling it manioc.  Back then, almost every house had some manioc growing in the back yard.  It was grown from stem cuttings; I don't know if it is possible to grow them from a tuber, at all.  Tapioca, which is used as a thickener and for puddings, is made from the starch of the manioc tuber.

Over here, it is available already pre-cut, cleaned, and frozen in some of the ethnic stores.  One of my friends buys them that way because she says she can't be bothered to clean them.  But they cost twice as much.  But, some ethnic stores also sell the tubers, themselves.  They come coated in wax to help preserve them, as the outer skin is paper thin.  My mother always told me to choose tubers that were undamaged and whole, as exposure to air causes the inside to spoil.

 

Manioc/Cassava/Yuca Tuber

The first thing I did was cut off the top and the bottom and cut the tuber crosswise into pieces.  I cut this particular manioc into four pieces:

 
Cut Pieces of Manioc

The next thing to do is remove the outer peel.  The brown outermost peel is paper thin (although it looks a bit thicker in the picture below because of the wax coating).  Just inside this brown paper thin layer is a pinky layer, which is poisonous (contains cyanide), and must be removed completely prior to cooking and eating!  Fortunately, it is very easy to remove it - I just cut down into the tuber and pry the layer off with my knife.  It comes off without any trouble.  If any of it remains, it can easily be cut off. 



Piece of Manioc Showing Outer Papery Skin and Pink, Poisonous Layer Beneath

 Below are two pieces of the completely peeled manioc:

 

Manioc: Peeled

These are the peels I removed.  As I mentioned, the whole thing comes off in one layer:




The Peels with the Poisonous Layer Attached

Once peeled, I cut each piece in half to reduce the boiling time and washed them well in a couple of rinses of water.  Then, I put them to boil with enough water to cover them and added some salt and a little turmeric powder (didn't measure how much).  I don't really know the significance of the turmeric powder, but this is how we've always cooked them!  


Manioc Being Boiled in Salted Water with Turmeric

I let it boil for about 15 minutes; the manioc is done when they can be pricked easily with a fork.  If there is extra water remaining after they are boiled, the water can be drained off.  In this particular instance, all the water got absorbed.

I plated half of the cooked manioc and ate it with a different kind of onion sambol, known as "katta sambol" - it is made with onions ground together with chili powder, salt, lime juice, and flakes of a dried fish known as Maldive fish.   It can be eaten with grated coconut, too.



Boiled Manioc and Katta Sambol


I think I could have added a little less turmeric!  It's supposed to be a light yellow, in color; mine turned out almost orange!  But that's OK.  Turmeric is supposed to be good for you!  I packed the rest of the manioc into a container to take to the office for breakfast, tomorrow.

Don't you wonder how people first figured out that removing the outer layer makes it safe to eat something like manioc?  Have you had manioc/cassava/yuca, other than as tapioca?  Is it something you might be willing to try?

23 comments:

  1. That's very interesting. Certainly not the normal breakfast faire around here. Ha! Yes, I do wonder how they figured out not to eat the pink layer.

    Hugs
    Jane

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    1. A lot of other cultures make different things with it, but boiled as above is how I've always had it and made it. :)

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  2. It is called cassava here, I have seen it in the supermarket as you have bought it and wondered about it. We have a lot of Asian and Indian fruits and vege for sale as there are a lot of Indian and South East Asian and Island immigrants in NZ. I just might be tempted to try it as it is really cheap and I love tapioca and sago. I always think it is amazing how man has managed to eat the most unlikely foods. Thanks for enlightening me about Cassava.

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    1. You are welcome, Sharon. Boiled, it has the texture of a firm potato, I think. There is a fibrous bit in the center, which is pried out before eating (it's not poisonous, just chewy and not something to eat). If you do feel like trying it, let me know how you like it. :)

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  3. I have eaten it as yucca in a local Cuban place. It is quite good.

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  4. I've just checked on one of our store websites and it's known as cassava over here. The only way I've eaten it is as tinned tapioca which I love! Don't mind admitting the cyanide bit scares me, but I will retain the information as it could come in useful at some point :)

    It fascinates me how people came up with the idea for most foods. Even something as simple as a cake. Who first thought of beating flour, sugar, eggs and butter together, then baking it.

    Do you traditionally just eat it for breakfast? xx

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    1. Suzanne, yes, we eat it traditionally for breakfast. I really don't know why it's considered a breakfast food, as opposed to lunch or dinner.

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  5. Many, many years ago my African roommate cooked cassava, sweet potatoes and plantains for us. I only recently learned that cassava must be prepared properly, because otherwise it's poisenous.

    Back then all the ingredients were basically unknown around here (Germany) and we were quite fascinated. It was so long ago he could bring food from West Africa when he visited his family. No security or food safety drama. I remember we were amused by the cashews packaged in Gin bottles. It was also the time when I brought a gallon metal container filled with maple syrup from the US. When it showed on the scanner, the security man asked me what it was, nodded and let me pass.

    I thought the cassava was lame, the sweet potatoes fair enough and the plantains great. Needless to say I never bothered with the cassava again.

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    1. Hi Jazz, yes, the cassava can be similar to a potato - rather bland and nothing much by itself. But eaten with a spicy sambol, it is good, especially if it is something you've grown up eating. "Comfort food" as one would call it. :)

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  6. Sunday afternoon we were talking about what people eat for breakfast in different parts of the world. My 16 year old grandson leaves for a holiday in Costa Rico tomorrow. At one of their organization meetings he was told the most common dish for breakfast is Gallo Pinto which consists of rice mixed with black beans, served with natilla (sour cream), eggs (scrambled) and fried plantain, coffee or fresh fruit juice with it.

    I too wonder how they found out about the poison part. I am a rather plain eater and do not like anything remotely spicy. If I was your guest I would politely try it.

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    1. Breakfast foods around the world are very interesting, aren't they? Hope your grandson enjoys his holiday; he's sure to have lots to tell when he comes back!

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  7. Interesting. I've never prepared it before but had it occasionally in a restaurant.

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    1. Like the potato, it is supposed to have originated in the New World and was taken to other parts of the world by the Portuguese and Spanish. Which is probably how we got it in Sri Lanka - the Portuguese arrived there in 1505.

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  8. I somehow got way behind and have just caught up with reading several of your posts with wonderful photos of the garden and of interesting food! I was very interested to read about the manioc/cassava as we have eaten this in a food called "Bammy" when visiting Jamaica and enjoyed it, too. Had no idea that there was a poisonous lining that had to be removed.

    Regarding the cat problem in garden beds, I think Sharon had a good idea about putting twigs and clippings on the soil. I have seen plastic cat deterrents with plastic spikes but the twigs would be more economical. Basically I guess anything that deters them from stepping onto that inviting soil will help.

    This weekend will mark 4 months since the first heavy snow dump here, and we still have loads to look at. In southern Ontario people have tapped trees and made syrup but we are on the northern edge so must be patient. This time last year we had our first bottling on the 16th March, although I recall it was only 2 litres from a brief thaw, and then we had to wait for the sap to run. We haven't even tapped yet. Who knows when we will be ready to start this year? Maybe the squirrels who chase across the snow can tell us!

    Bushlady

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    1. Lovely to hear from you, as always, Bushlady. Glad you were able to catch up on your reading! :) Sounds like spring is taking its own sweet time getting there, but when it does, you'll be busy!

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  9. Well, I guess I should have read this post first! Thank you! Can it be roasted like other root veggies?

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    1. No problem, Joy. I haven't roasted it, but I don't see why it can't be roasted. I just did a search, and apparently, it can be roasted, but the recipe said to boil it in salted water for 15 mins., first.

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  10. How interesting... I agree... wonder who figured out you could eat it, and knew the pink part was poisionous?
    We don't have ethnic stores around me, so have never seen any..
    Have a great day.

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    1. I guess there were quite a few people who became sick before they figured it out! It's like rhubarb, isn't it? The stalks are perfectly fine to eat, but the leaves are poisonous! Love rhubarb - I've tried to grow it here, but haven't had any luck.

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  11. Thanks for sharing this! I love tapioca and the large tapioca pearls used in boba tea especially. I've seen it for sale here (frozen, usually) as yuca or cassava. And I've eaten it as yuca and really enjoyed it (a food truck sells yuca fries which are amazing). I've never tried to cook it myself, though. It's interesting how many different cultures use this plant and how their use differs. I think "who first thought this was a good idea?" about a number of different things we eat!!! ;)

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    1. You are welcome! I haven't made yuca fries, but I've read about them; it might be something to try one day. Of course, boiled means fewer calories... :)

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