Little Spiders (Salty Yuca Fritters)

I love exploring the cuisines of other cultures, and I’m thrilled when I find traditional dishes that are paleo-friendly with no weird substitutions. Surprisingly, much Caribbean & Latin/Caribbean food is paleo-friendly because several of their basic starches are not grains- sweet potatoes, yuca, plantains, true yams, taro, and malanga. One of the vegetables we’re trying out is yuca, also called manioc or cassava. I’m trying different ways of cooking it to find out if we like it well enough to grow as a summer root vegetable crop. I have only cooked yuca at home a few times, and I’ve only made yucas fritas, which are basically steak fries made from yuca. Yuca is a very starchy and filling root vegetable, not for every day, but it makes a nice change from the regular sweet potatoes.

Aranitas (Little Spiders)

This method is basically the same as making potato pancakes, the crispy shreds of yuca sticking out around the edges apparently makes them look like spiders!

2 lb yuca
2 eggs
1 tbl seasoning salt

First prep the yuca. Peel the hard woody skin and the purple inner skin using a sturdy vegetable peeler. Then get a large bowl or pot and fill halfway with water. Place a towel under the bowl. Put your box grater or flat grater in the bowl of water and grate the yuca directly into the water. Yuca oxidizes even faster than potatoes but grating it directly into water works really well. Yuca is a dense root, so if you’re doing this by hand get some help or you can count it as an upper-body workout.

You’ll notice that the grated yuca will start releasing a lot of starchy liquid. Swirl the grated yuca around in the water, drain, and repeat until the water is mostly clear. This rinses away much of the extra starch (and the slightly poisonous cyanide compounds- the rest are destroyed by cooking) and gives you crispy fritters.

Heat the lard over medium in a wok or frying pan.  Drain the grated yuca and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Add the eggs and seasoning salt and stir until thoroughly combined. Test the lard. You want the fritters to sizzle, but if the heat is too high, then the fritters will break apart instead of holding together. Fry walnut-sized scoops of the yuca mixture until browned on each side. Drain on paper and sprinkle with more seasoning salt. Once the liquid starts coming out of the grated yuca mixture, make sure to stir the liquid back in, it will help the fritters stick together in the pan. Serve immediately.

My kids really liked these with fried plantains and curry mayo- just a bit of homemade mayonnaise mixed with Jamaican curry powder.

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