Yuca Frita Salvadoreña (Salvadoran Fried Yuca) Recipe

by Chef Adel
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Yuca Frita Salvadoreña

Today, we’re diving into an irresistibly delicious recipe that holds a special place in my heart and kitchen: Yuca Frita Salvadoreña, or Salvadoran Fried Yuca. This delightful dish is a staple in El Salvador, cherished for its simplicity and soul-satisfying flavors. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or a curious food enthusiast, preparing Yuca Frita at home brings a piece of Salvadoran culture to your dining table. 

Table of Contents

How to make Yuca Frita Salvadoreña 

Yuca Frita Salvadoreña is a Salvadoran-style fried cassava. Cassava, also known as yuca or manioc, is a starchy root vegetable native to South America and commonly eaten in many parts of the world. In El Salvador, yuca is a staple food prepared in various ways, including frying. 

Ingredients: 

  • 1 lb of fresh yuca (cassava root), alternatively, you can use frozen yuca which is often already peeled and saves time. 
  • Oil for frying traditionally, vegetable or canola oil is used for its neutral flavor. 
  • A pinch of salt to taste. 
  • Water for boiling the yuca. 

For the optional Curtido (Salvadoran pickled cabbage slaw): 

  • 1/4 head of Cabbage, shredded 
  • 1 small carrot, grated 
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, for heat) 

For the Salsa Roja (Salvadoran red sauce): 

  • 1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil for cooking 

Instructions: 

Prepare the Yuca: 

  1. Begin by peeling the yuca, carefully removing the brown outer skin and the waxy layer underneath. If you’re using frozen yuca, this step is already done for you. 
  2. Cut the yuca into 3-4 inch sections. Split each section in half lengthwise and remove the fibrous core. 
  3. Rinse the yuca pieces under cold water. 
  4. Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil. 
  5. Carefully place the yuca pieces into the boiling water. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the yuca is fork-tender but still firm. 
  6. Drain the yuca and let it cool down slightly. Cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces if desired. 

Fry the Yuca: 

  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. You’ll want the oil to be about an inch deep, enough to cover half of the yuca pieces. 
  2. Carefully add the yuca to the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown and crispy, usually about 4-5 minutes on each side. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. 
  3. Once the yuca is nicely browned and crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon and place it on paper towels to drain excess oil. 
  4. Season with a sprinkle of salt while still hot. 

Make the Curtido (optional): 

  1. Combine the shredded Cabbage, grated carrot, and sliced onion in a bowl. 
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, water, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. 
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mix and stir to combine. 
  4. Let the Curtido sit at room temperature for at least an hour or, even better, refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. 

Prepare the Salsa Roja (optional): 

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, then add garlic and cook for about a minute more. 
  2. Add the tomato sauce, water, and oregano to the pan—season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly and develop the flavors. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. 

Key Tips: 

  • When preparing the yuca, make sure to remove all of the woody core as it’s not pleasant to eat. 
  • The yuca should be fork-tender before frying; otherwise, you might end up with a crispy exterior and a hard, inedible interior. 
  • Maintain the oil’s temperature to ensure even frying and prevent the yuca from absorbing too much oil. 
  • If you prefer a lighter version, you can skip the frying step and serve the boiled yuca with the condiments. 
  • The Curtido tastes better as it sits and the flavors meld, so consider preparing it a day ahead. 

What to serve with 

Yuca Frita Salvadoreña is a versatile dish that can stand on its own as a delicious snack or appetizer but also shines as part of a larger meal. When planning what to serve with Yuca Frita, consider balancing the dish’s hearty and crispy nature with complementary flavors and textures. Here are some suggestions for side dishes and accompaniments to elevate your Yuca Frita experience, making it an unforgettable meal. 

Accompaniments: 

  • Pescado Frito (Fried Fish): In coastal regions, Yuca Frita is often paired with Pescado Frito. The crispy, golden exterior of the fish, seasoned with lime and salt, complements the starchy yuca beautifully, with both elements sharing a delightful crunch. 
  • Chicharrón (Fried Pork Belly): For a heartier meal, serve Yuca Frita alongside Chicharrón or fried pork belly. The rich, savory flavor of the pork contrasts nicely with the mild, slightly sweet taste of the yuca. 
  • Pollo Guisado (Stewed Chicken): Yuca Frita can also accompany softer, stewed dishes like Pollo Guisado, a comforting chicken stew. The sauce from the stew provides a great dipping option for the Yuca Frita, adding layers of flavor. 

Sauces and Dips: 

  • Salsa Roja (Salvadoran Red Sauce): This mild, flavorful sauce made from tomatoes, onions, and spices is a classic pairing with Yuca Frita. Its smooth texture and slightly tangy taste make it the perfect complement. 
  • Curtido (Pickled Cabbage Slaw): A staple in Salvadoran cuisine, Curtido is a lightly fermented cabbage slaw with carrots, onions, and sometimes hot peppers. Its crisp texture and vinegary bite offer a refreshing contrast to the dense yuca. 
  • Guacamole: The creaminess and subtle acidity of guacamole work wonderfully with Yuca Frita. It’s an easy-to-make addition that brings a fresh, zesty flavor to the table. 

Beverages: 

  • Horchata de Morro: This traditional Salvadoran drink, made from ground morro seeds and other ingredients like cocoa, cinnamon, and vanilla, is sweet and creamy, offering a refreshing counterpoint to the fried Yuna. 
  • Tamarindo Juice: With its sweet and tangy profile, Tamarindo juice provides a thirst-quenching and palate-cleansing effect, making it a great beverage choice to accompany Yuca Frita. 
  • Cold Beer: A light, crisp beer can complement the richness of Yuca Frita, especially on a hot day. Opt for a lager or pilsner that won’t overpower the flavors of your meal. 

Salads: 

  • Tomato and Avocado Salad: A simple salad with ripe tomatoes, avocado, lime juice, and cilantro can add freshness and a creamy texture that pairs well with the crispy yuca. 
  • Green Salad: A light green salad dressed with a citrus vinaigrette offers a crisp and refreshing side that balances the heaviness of the fried yuca. 

Ingredients substitutes 

 Salvadoran Fried Yuca

While Yuca Frita Salvadoreña is traditionally made with specific ingredients, you might need substitutes due to availability issues or dietary restrictions. Here’s a detailed guide on how each component can be substituted without losing the essence of this beloved Salvadoran dish. 

Main Ingredient: Yuca (Cassava) 

Substitute: Potatoes or Sweet Potatoes 

  • Potatoes make a great substitute for yuca due to their similar texture. The flavor will be milder, and the fries will lack the distinct sweetness of yuca, but potatoes fry up nicely and can be a comforting alternative. 
  • Sweet Potatoes can be used for a sweeter version, resembling the subtle sweetness of yuca. They’re also rich in nutrients and flavor but have a softer texture when fried. 

Cooking Oil 

Substitute: Coconut Oil or Avocado Oil 

  • If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional vegetable or canola oil, coconut oil offers a healthier fat profile and can introduce a slight tropical flavor that complements the yuca well. 
  • Avocado oil has a high smoking point, similar to canola or vegetable oil, making it perfect for frying. It’s also a heart-healthy fat with a neutral flavor profile. 

For Curtido 

Substitute: Different kinds of vinegar or No Cabbage 

  • If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, you can use white vinegar or rice vinegar for the pickling liquid. The taste will vary slightly, but the primary tangy profile will still be there. 
  • In the absence of Cabbage, consider using shredded Brussels sprouts or a mix of shredded carrots and radishes. These substitutions offer a similar crunchy texture. 

For Salsa Roja 

Substitute: Different Tomatoes or Onions 

  • If canned tomato sauce is not on hand, you can blend fresh ripe tomatoes with a bit of water to create a fresh, albeit slightly chunkier, base for the sauce. Canned diced tomatoes could also be a good substitute, offering a similar convenience. 
  • Shallots or green onions can stand in for regular onions in a pinch. They will alter the flavor profile but still contribute a necessary aromatic base. 

Extra Add-ons 

Substitute: Cheese or Meat 

  • Queso fresco can be substituted with feta cheese (for saltiness) or mozzarella (for a milder taste). These can add a delightful creaminess to the dish. 
  • For chicharrón (fried pork belly), if looking for a lighter substitute, consider turkey bacon or even crispy fried mushrooms for a vegetarian option. Both offer a satisfying crunch and savory flavor that can somewhat mimic the texture and taste of pork. 

Final Thoughts 

Cooking up this Yuca Frita Salvadoreña recipe is not only about enjoying a tasty meal; it’s an indulgence in a cultural experience. With these detailed steps, even those new to Salvadoran cuisine can bring a touch of Central America’s flavor to their home cooking.

Yuca Frita Salvadoreña

Yuca Frita Salvadoreña

Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 159 calories 0.3 gram fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )

Ingredients

  • 1 lb of fresh yuca (cassava root), alternatively, you can use frozen yuca which is often already peeled and saves time. 
  • Oil for frying traditionally, vegetable or canola oil is used for its neutral flavor. 
  • A pinch of salt to taste. 
  • Water for boiling the yuca. 

For the optional Curtido (Salvadoran pickled cabbage slaw): 

  • 1/4 head of Cabbage, shredded 
  • 1 small carrot, grated 
  • 1/2 small onion, thinly sliced 
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar 
  • 1/4 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, for heat) 

For the Salsa Roja (Salvadoran red sauce): 

  • 1 can (8 oz) of tomato sauce 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 onion, chopped 
  • 1 clove garlic, minced 
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • 1-2 tablespoons oil for cooking

Instructions

Prepare the Yuca: 

  1. Begin by peeling the yuca, carefully removing the brown outer skin and the waxy layer underneath. If you're using frozen yuca, this step is already done for you. 
  2. Cut the yuca into 3-4 inch sections. Split each section in half lengthwise and remove the fibrous core. 
  3. Rinse the yuca pieces under cold water. 
  4. Fill a large pot with water and add a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil. 
  5. Carefully place the yuca pieces into the boiling water. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the yuca is fork-tender but still firm. 
  6. Drain the yuca and let it cool down slightly. Cut into smaller, bite-sized pieces if desired. 

Fry the Yuca: 

  1. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat. You'll want the oil to be about an inch deep, enough to cover half of the yuca pieces. 
  2. Carefully add the yuca to the hot oil and fry until they are golden brown and crispy, usually about 4-5 minutes on each side. Work in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. 
  3. Once the yuca is nicely browned and crispy, remove it with a slotted spoon and place it on paper towels to drain excess oil. 
  4. Season with a sprinkle of salt while still hot. 

Make the Curtido (optional): 

  1. Combine the shredded Cabbage, grated carrot, and sliced onion in a bowl. 
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, water, salt, oregano, and red pepper flakes. 
  3. Pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mix and stir to combine. 
  4. Let the Curtido sit at room temperature for at least an hour or, even better, refrigerate for several hours to allow the flavors to meld. 

Prepare the Salsa Roja (optional): 

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent, then add garlic and cook for about a minute more. 
  2. Add the tomato sauce, water, and oregano to the pan—season with salt and pepper. 
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10-15 minutes to thicken slightly and develop the flavors. 
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. 

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