Yuca is a pre-Columbian staple of the Caribbean, and today in Cuba this recipe is traditionally served on the holiday of Nochebuena (Christmas Eve) along with roasted pig. Want to learn more about this Christmas tradition? Check out this article in the New York Times.
Type of dish: Side Dish
Equipment: Large pot, strainer
Servings: Makes 4 servings
- 3 pounds of yuca
- 4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed with a garlic press, or crushed with the salt in a mortar and pestle
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 3 TB freshly squeezed orange juice (about one half of an orange)
- 3 TB freshly squeezed lime juice (about one lime)
- 1/3 cup olive oil or lard
- chopped parsley, oregano, or cilantro for garnish (optional)
Prepare the yuca:
- Peel the yuca and cut into 2-inch pieces along its length. To safely peel the yuca, cut off the end to create a flat, round base. The yuca should be firm and white inside. Stand the yuca on its base on the cutting board for stability to remove the peel with a knife.
- Cut each 2 inch long piece of yuca in half to form half moon shapes.
- In a large pot, cover the yuca well with water, by a couple of inches. Bring to a gently rolling boil.
- Gently boil the yuca for 50 to 60 minutes until it is cooked through. A Cuban trick is to shock the yuca halfway through the cooking time by adding a few cups of cold water and allowing it to come to a boil again. The tradition states that this helps yuca properly open up.
Make the mojo, or garlic sour sauce:
- Mix the garlic, salt, cumin, orange juice, and lime juice in a small mixing bowl. If using the olive oil, add the olive oil to the bowl and set aside. If using lard, mix all the ingredients except the lard in the small bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the lard over low heat.
- When the yuca is finished cooking, drain and place in your serving dish. Remove the fibrous core that looks like a thick string. While yuca is still hot, pour the olive oil mojo over the top. If using the lard, place the contents of the bowl of seasonings on top of the yuca, and then pour the warmed lard over the top. Serve hot. Garnish with a freshly chopped herb sprinkled on top if you’d like.
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is yuca the same as yucca? where do yo buy it? any good substitutes?
I was born in Cuba and the yuca con mojo alongside the congri (rice and beans) and roast pork (in the old days, very primal-style cooked in a pit my dad and brother and BIL dug, covered with plantain leaves, watched all day as they sipped beer and coffee; and later in the caja china as we got older and digging pits didn’t seem such fun.) ; ) Boiled yuca doused in EVOO with salt or with mojo is still one of my fave comfort foods. And fried yuca with eggs is one of my fave after-holiday breakfasts (the leftover boiled yuca crispified is to die for.)
does it taste anything like white potatoes?
thanks miguel! that sounds about right – I love yuca but always found myself saying, “yuck I wish I didn’t have this stem in the middle!” Great tip.
this recipe is spot on and a family tradition of ours for sure. i have one tip: prior to cooking, carefully cut and remove the tough, fibrous and seemingly inedible stem that runs lengthwise in the center of the yuca root. it makes for a much better eating experience for me anyway.
Thanks for these recipes, they are very helpful!