Mandioca Frita
(Fried Manioc or Yuca)

Manioc, also known as yuca or cassava in Central America and the U.S., is a white starchy tuber with a delicate taste (many people I know say that fried manioc beats French fries anytime). It has been a staple of the Brazilian Indians' diet for centuries, and it is from their language, Tupi, that we have the names mandioca (madi'og) in Southern Brazil and aipim (ai'pi) in Rio de Janeiro for the root and tapioca (tipi'og) for its starch. For fried manioc (pictured above at right) you can buy the frozen yuca sold in Hispanic markets. It comes cut into rounds. Follow the package directions to cook the yuca, but cook only until tender. Some brands will say 30 minutes or more, but in reality it won't take longer than 10 minutes. Don't ask why! In northeastern Brazil, manioc is known as macaxeira. In São Paulo you find it already peeled and cooked...all you need to do is to cut it into wedges and fry!

1 pound cooked yuca cut into 1/2 inch wedges

1 quart canola or peanut oil for frying

Just before serving fry the yuca in a deep fat fryer or in a skillet. When I use a skillet, I pour about 2 inches of oil. Fry the yuca in several batches until golden, about 2-3 minutes. Blot on paper towels and serve hot. My friend Steven Raichlen, a cookbook author and newspaper columnist from Miami, likes to sprinkle the fried yuca with onion or garlic salt.

Maria's Cookbook