French fries are obviously the best salty, golden, fried potato snack out there. But what if I told you to ditch the potato?
Panic would set in at first, of course, but never fear: Yuca fries are the crispy-creamy fried snack that just might be better than the old potato.
I had yuca fries for the first time at a Cuban restaurant in Los Angeles. I was immediately obsessed. Crispy and golden on the outside, dense yet fluffy on the inside, it was impossible to stop snacking on them (especially since they were so good at soaking up all of the garlicky mojo sauce they were served with).
Enjoyed throughout Central and South America, parts of Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean, yuca is the tuberous root of the cassava plant, which is also used to make tapioca. Yuca is similar in shape to a sweet potato, but with a rough, brown, waxy skin that looks more like a tree root than a regular potato.
Yuca is more calorically dense than a potato, but it also has more fiber and protein and less sugar. It has a higher carbohydrate content, but when you’re frying yuca, this works to its advantage: Unlike french fries, yuca needs to be fried only once to get the perfect crispy, golden exterior.
To prepare yuca fries, you need to peel them. Cut them into wedges or planks, removing the woody inner core of the yuca. Yuca can turn brown when exposed to the air, so as you cut, add the fresh slices directly to a pot of cold water.
Once you’re done slicing, bring the pot of water with the yuca to a boil, then lower the heat, and simmer until the yuca is tender and fraying (but not mushy).
Strain the yuca, and dry it on a layer of paper towels.
In the meantime, bring a pot of oil to 350 degrees F. Once it’s reached the correct temperature, add the yuca (in batches if needed — don’t crowd the pan, or they won’t be as crispy). Fry until crispy and golden on the outside, flipping and turning the fries frequently so they cook evenly.
Remove the yuca fries from the oil, season with salt, and drain on paper towels. Serve with ketchup, spicy mayo, a garlicky mojo sauce — basically anything with a kick.
You can see the recipe for making yuca fries along with a Peruvian aji amarillo sauce at Serious Eats.
You can also try making crispy baked yuca fries with this recipe from The Healthy Maven.
So if you’re ready to take a break from your beloved potato, why not try yuca? You may be able to find it at a typical grocery store, but try checking out Central or South American markets in your area too. Once you take the first crispy, carby bite, you won’t regret trying something new.