On my recent trip to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, I stumbled on an old favorite childhood snack while at the market. I can only describe it as tater tots made out of yucca root.
By Francine Holmes
Yucca root (Manihot esculenta), a.k.a. cassava or manioc, is a tuberous root with a bark-like skin and white starchy flesh. Manioc is farmed and quite popular in Africa. It tends to be the staple starch in many dishes. The preparation options are limitless: manioc can be boiled (made into foutou), sliced and fried (manioc fries), or processed to make atieke, garri or attoupou. Manioc is full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
Yucca tots are a great snack and quite easy to make. When I returned to the States, I made a special trip to the West Indian supermarket to get some yucca roots and a coconut. My aunt shared the recipe and I couldn’t wait to try it.
4 Yucca (manioc) roots – 1 whole coconut
1 packet of rapid rise yeast – Vegetable cooking oil – Salt
1 large bowl – box grater – Deep frying pan – Straining ladle – Clean dish towel
Break open your coconut, remove the white meat from the shell, and place it on a serving dish. Peel the yucca, split it open down the middle to remove the vein. Once all your roots are peeled and cut, grate each piece into a puree using the box grater. Place the yucca puree into the dish towel, gather the ends and press firmly to squeeze out the excess water from it. Make sure to leave your puree somewhat moist to enable you to easily mold it into balls. Remove the puree from the dish towel and place it into your large bowl. Now you can salt it to taste and add the packet of rapid rise yeast. Mix it well with your hands, and in your palms, mold it into large marble size balls. Fry them in hot cooking oil until golden brown and then remove from the oil with the straining ladle. Place on a serving dish with the coconut meat. You can leave it to cool; the tots taste fine warm or cold.