In this article, we're answering your top questions about cassava. What does it taste like? Is it safe to eat? How do you use it? Keep reading to find out.
Let's begin, shall we?
What Does Cassava Taste Like?
The South American root vegetable called cassava goes by many names, including yucca, manioc and Brazilian arrowroot, and it's actually what tapioca starch and pearls are made from.
Cassava is earthy, nutty and vaguely sweet but also vaguely bitter. The flavor is very subtle, so it's great for cooking with both mild ingredients and stronger-tasting ingredients that will infuse it while it cooks.
This is a very starchy vegetable with a texture that's much like a potato. You can expect cooked cassava root to be dense, soft, creamy and a little mealy.
Powdered cassava will be dry, light and floury with none of the slight graininess of the cooked root. Pearled cassava, called tapioca, is very hard but turns gelatinous when cooked.
Is It Safe to Eat Cassava?
Cassava is perfectly safe to eat in moderate quantities when properly prepared. If not, it can be quite toxic and dangerous as your body can convert some of the root's properties into cyanide.
Raw cassava should never be consumed. While we are not authorities on the subject, from what our research shows, safe practices for consuming cassava involve peeling, slicing and very thoroughly cooking it (taking care to avoid the water the cassava was cooked in if boiled).
If you're planning to cook cassava root for the first time, we encourage you to do some thorough investigating to make sure that you're preparing it correctly.
How Do You Eat Cassava?
This adaptable root vegetable is eaten in a variety of ways. It can be boiled and mashed like potatoes or baked and made into fries. Sometimes it's fried and served like fritters.
Other ways of using cassava, especially in powdered or pearl form, are in desserts. These can range from vegan custards, to cakes, to cookies, and cassava starch is often used as a gluten-free baking flour.
Cassava Serving Tips
While cassava can be a main dish, sides are easy ways to start using it. Many popular dishes are already vegan, and if not, they're easily veganized, as you'll see below.
This video will show you not only how to make yucca fries, but also how to prep the root. Here's what you'll need for your yucca fries:
- Yucca (cassava root)
- Olive oil
- Any herbs and spices you like (optional)
Here's a recipe for a vegan take on a Cuban dish, yucca with mojo sauce. It's a delicious, zesty side dish or light meal. This is what you'll need to make it:
- Yucca root
- Lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
Cassava comes in many forms, including the whole root, a starchy flour and tapioca pearls. This gives you quite a large number of recipes you can use cassava in, but always remember that the fresh root is toxic if not carefully prepared and well-cooked. But don't worry—correctly made cassava is safe. Make yucca fries to start, then move on to more complex mains and even desserts.