1. Prepare the yucca for peeling by chopping off the top and bottom of the root. Cut the yucca in half horizontally. 00:48
2. To peel yucca the traditional way, hold one half in your hand and with a small chef’s knife, make an incision in the skin from the top to bottom. Slide your knife carefully between the skin and the flesh all the way around the yucca, turning while slicing. Since the skin is very tough and the yucca is quite dense and fibrous, this traditional method can be particularly challenging. 01:06
3. To peel yucca in a more stable position, place one half of the root upright on a cutting board, flat side down. Place your hand on top of the yucca and remove the skin in thin strips by sliding the chef's knife from top to bottom all the way around the yucca. 01:50
4. Once peeled, the yucca can be boiled whole or in evenly chopped pieces. Place the yucca in a pot of cold water, seasoned lightly with salt, and bring the pot to a boil. Boil the yucca for 20 to 25 minutes or until fork tender. 02:19
5. Yucca can also be fried in oil, chopped into rough pieces, or sliced thinly to make chips. Deep fry roughly chopped pieces for 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender, and thinner slices until golden brown. 02:34
What You'll Need
- Chef’s knife, large
- Chef’s knife, small*
- Cutting board
- Large pot
- Deep fryer
- Yucca root
*See Chef Notes for more information
Yucca, also called cassava or manioc, is a starchy and fibrous root vegetable that originated in South America and is now grown in the tropics of Asia and Africa. In the Caribbean, the yucca root is used as commonly as the potato is in the United States. It sometimes grows to 12 inches in length and up to 3 inches in diameter, with white flesh and tough brown skin that is often waxed to protect it during travel.
There are two types of yucca root: bitter and sweet. The bitter varieties are particularly poisonous unless cooked and processed and are used to make tapioca flour, a common thickener in baking and the base for boba balls in Asian tea.
The sweet varieties of yucca, while not as toxic as the bitter ones, do still possess some poisonous properties and must be cooked before consumption. The sweet varieties are in season all year round in Africa and South America and are exported around the world. Sweet yucca can be found in ethnic and specialty markets.
A smaller, very sharp chef’s knife should be used when utlizing the traditional method of slicing yucca, described in step 2 of this tutorial. A large chef’s knife would be too large and clunky to manipulate when making such precise cuts, particularly since Chef Alberto recommends holding the yucca in your hand while you peel it the traditional way .