While I love Brazilian food, I usually focus on the spicier Bahia coast cuisine. The state of Bahia is located on Brazil’s northeastern coast and is populated by descendants of African slaves and Haitian emigres, who came to work in the coconut groves, sugarcane fields and cacao plantations of Bahia. 1/3 of all people taken from Africa were sent to Bahia as slaves.
Known as cassava in Africa and the British/French Caribbean, yuca in the Latin & western world and manioc in Brazil/Portugal, this root vegetable is an important starch vegetable in Brazil and many other countries. Especially in countries where hard physical labor is done like cutting down sugarcane, this vegetable provides the energy needed for such difficult and physically exhausting work. Every form of this vegetable is used in Brazilian cuisine. It is often used in its purest form in soups and stews. It is ground into a starch to make treats like Pao de Queijo – very similar to the Bolivian cunape I made here. It is ground into flour and used in baking things like breads, cakes and cookies. It is also ground into a coarse meal where it is toasted with a little palm oil and served as a common side dish instead of rice. Lastly, tapioca which most of us are familiar with is made from cassava/yuca/manioc.
Yuca Fries are made throughout Latin America. What changes is how they are served. In most of the Latin Caribbean (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico), they are served with garlic sauce. In some countries, they are simply just sprinkled with salt. In this Bahia coast version, they are topped with a spicy powder.
Palm oil, also known as dende oil, is the primary fat used in cooking in Brazil and especially Bahia. It gives the foods a rich golden color.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- cassava/yuca/manioc (quantity is how much you want to make)
- palm oil, for frying
Spice Blend Ingredients:
- 2 tablespoons dried parsley
- 2 teaspoons jalapeno salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Peel vegetable very well until there is no more skin left. There is an inner core that must be cut off in the middle. If this core is left in, it will be stringy when eating and will also taste bitter. Cut into matchstick slices.
Combine spice blend ingredients and mix well.
Heat enough oil for deep frying. Fry until golden brown and crispy.
Drain on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with spice blend.
Dried piri piri peppers would commonly be used in the spice blend, but I had run out so used the jalapeno salt instead.
These can be served as a snack or to accompany stews like this Xin Xin de Galinha.
Here I had it with some roast chicken and cucumber slices for lunch.