Monday, July 2, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Yuca Fries on the Side...with Peruvian Peppered Cheese Sauce

Friends, I hope you have enjoyed this weekend!
First, I have to tell you that I had the pleasure of visiting FONDA restaurant in Brooklyn, where we enjoyed Roberto Santibañez's amazing food. I will write more about him soon--
Second,  I want to tell you about an event coming up in three weeks: 

Thursday July 26, 6pm – 7:30pm
In the Kitchen with Arlen /En La Cocina con Arlen    From preparing a small soirée for close friends & family, to making an intimate dinner for two, entertaining should be satisfying, not stressful! Arlen, cookbook author, teacher & home chef will share her tips for entertaining Latin style. Sumptuous sips & light treats from her cookbooks will be shared!    La Casa Azul Bookstore

143 E. 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029, Phone: (212) 426 – 2626Let me know if you can make it! 

And finally, Today's recipe: 
Yuca Fries and Peruvian Peppered Cheese Sauce 
From Mambo Mixers, by Arlen Gargagliano, ©2005
Stewart, Tabori & Chang
 You've probably seen yuca, but have you had the pleasure of tasting it? Don't be put off by the bark-like cover. Once you start eating yuca, you may not go back to potatoes!
The sauce here is also great and addictive. In fact if you mention huancaína (Wan-kai-YEE-nah) sauce to a Peruvian in the States, you may see some tears of nostalgia; this much-beloved salsa is certainly one of Peruvian comfort foods. (The name, by the way, is from an absolutely breath-taking area of Peru: Huancayo.)

Served usually with boiled potatoes, here this sauce is served as a dip with very tasty yuca fries. Ah--also, I have to warn you: If you start giving out tastes of these fries before you actually serve them, they won't make it to the dinner table. From my dad to my kids--and everyone in between--they're always a huge hit. Enjoy! 

Makes about 25 fries and  1 cup  sauce

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup canola oil
1 medium sweet yellow onion, minced
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 hard-cooked egg yolks
8 ounces Mexican white cheese  (or ricotta or feta cheese)
3  teaspoons ají amarillo (sold in large supermarkets and Latin markets—like Viva Grande in New Rochelle)
1/4 cup evaporated milk
So you can see how big the yuca is--and what it looks like! 
3 saltine crackers
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lemon, cut in half

4 pounds peeled fresh or frozen yuca
Vegetable oil for frying

First prepare the sauce: Heat  2 tablespoons of the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic, stirring constantly for about three minutes or until onion has softened.

In food processor, combine the egg yolks, cheese, ají, milk, and crackers. Add the onion mixture and process until well blended. Gradually pour in the oil and mix until the sauce becomes creamy. Squeeze the lemons and stir in the juice. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to two days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Then prepare the yuca: I prefer fresh--which requires cutting in half and then peeling (don't keep any of that bark!) with a sharp, strong knife (if you haven't done it before, check this out; it's an excellent photo guide). If you're using frozen: Cook the frozen yuca in a stockpot of salted water or chicken broth. Boil and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Be careful because you don’t want it to cook too much or it will get mushy.  Drain and let cool. Cut yuca in half, and remove the stringy core. Then cut into pieces of about 1/2-inch thick, and 2 inches in length.

Heat about 1 1/2 inches of oil in a heavy pot.   Fry yuca, in small batches, for  5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Toss with salt, transfer to a platter and serve immediately with the salsa.
Served on a plate next to Huancaína Sauce


  1. I'm not sure I've seen a yuca in my grocery. Can I find it in Spanish grocery stores? It looks like a nice twist on French fries.

  2. yuca = cassava

  3. SUELI DOS sANTOSJuly 5, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    Hi Arlen, I did not Know you have another talente, I appreciatte see the yuca fries, this is a delicious apettizer in my country, Brasil.

    Sueli dos Santos level 4

  4. Hi Sueli,
    Thank you for your note! Yes--when I'm not in the English classroom, I'm usually in the kitchen! Well, your country has lots of food that I love....including these fries and one of my favorites: Brazilian Cheese Puffs! Do you like to cook? What do you like to make?