Yuca, also known as cassava or manioc, is a tropical shrub with an edible root that is fibrous and extremely starchy. It is a common ingredient in many Latin American countries. I grew up having it in multiple preparations, for example, boiled as part of chicken soup, steamed and topped with pork cracklings and a vinegary cabbage slaw ("chicharrón con yuca"), deep-fried in the manner of French fries, mashed in lieu of potatoes. It is, actually, as versatile as a potato, and often does act as a stand-in.
For the most part, yuca is used in savory preparations, but it does moonlight as a dessert ingredient. In Nicaragua, the yuca root's tough, brown skin is peeled off and the white interior finely shredded, then combined with queso duro, a firm, salty cheese. Eggs and baking powder are stirred in, and the mixture is deep-fried to make buñuelos (fritters). The golden, crusty, cheesy fritters are on the salty side, but always served warm with a dark mahogany-colored, cinnamon and clove-scented simple syrup at the end of lunch or dinner.
About the author: María del Mar Sacasa is a recipe developer, food stylist, and author of the food blog High Heels & Frijoles. Behind her girly façade lurks a truck driver's appetite.