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Saturday, March 28, 2009



The cassava, cassada[1], yuca, manioc, mogo[2] or mandioca (Manihot esculenta) is a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge family) native to South America that is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates. Cassava is the third[vague] largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world, with Africa its largest center of production. The flour made of the roots is called tapioca.

In Costa Rica, yuca is widely used, both boiled in soups or fried and served with fried pieces of pork and lime. This is sold as a snack in most places you travel. When travelling by bus, the bus is often boarded by a local trying to sell "sandwich bagged" snacks of yuca, pork and lime. Two main sources of food for locals in rural areas, living off resources within their own land, are yuca and plantain
Cooked in various ways, cassava is used in a variety of dishes. The soft-boiled root has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for meat dishes, or made into purées, dumplings, soups, stews, gravies, etc.. Deep fried (after boiling or steaming), it can replace fried potatoes, with a distinctive flavor. Tapioca and foufou are made from the starchy cassava root flour. Tapioca is an essentially flavourless starchy ingredient, or fecula, produced from treated and dried cassava (manioc) root and used in cooking. It is similar to sago and is commonly used to make a milky pudding similar to rice pudding. Cassava flour, also called tapioca flour or tapioca starch, can also replace wheat flour, and is so-used by some people with wheat allergies or coeliac disease. Boba tapioca pearls are made from cassava root. It is also used in cereals for which several tribes in South America have used it extensively. It is also used in making cassava cake, a popular pastry.

The juice of the bitter cassava, boiled to the consistence of thick syrup and flavored with spices, is called Cassareep. It is used as a basis for various sauces and as a culinary flavoring, principally in tropical countries. It is exported chiefly from Guyana.

The leaves can be pounded to a fine chaff and cooked as a palaver sauce in Sierra Leone, usually with palm oil but vegetable oil can also be used. Palaver sauces contain meat and fish as well. It is necessary to wash the leaf chaff several times to remove the bitterness.

In many countries, significant research has begun to evaluate the use of cassava as an ethanol biofuel.

In China, dried tapioca are used among other industrial applications as raw material for the production of consumable alcohol and emerging non-grain feedstock of ethanol fuel, which is a form of renewable energy to substitute petrol (gasoline). Under the Development Plan for Renewable Energy in the 11th Five-Year Plan in China, the target is to increase the application of ethanol fuel by non-grain feedstock to 2 million tonnes, and that of bio-diesel to 200 thousand tonnes by 2010. This will be equivalent to a substitute of 10 million tonnes of petroleum. As a result, cassava (tapioca) chips have gradually become a major source for ethanol production.