Yuca Cakes

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Yuca, or cassava, is like the potato of Costa Rica—it can be mashed, fried, boiled, or baked. This root vegetable is traditionally a staple food for families since it’s delicious, versatile, and inexpensive. These savory yuca cakes are slightly nutty in flavor: a tasty, traditional dish enjoyed throughout the Nicoya Peninsula. A good source of fiber, vitamin C, folate, B vitamins, and potassium, yuca also has a low glycemic index.

This delightful enyucado recipe can be enjoyed as a snack or dressed up into a full meal. You can enjoy the simple preparation as is or customize it if you prefer. Herbs and spices like garlic and chili pepper, as well as other vegetables such as onion, scallions, or celery, can be used in these savory patties. You can also garnish with toppings like avocado, cashew cream, hot sauce, or sweeten them with jam or honey.

Total Cook Time: 50 minutes | Makes 4 Servings

Source: The Blue Zones Kitchen, Photo: David McLain


1 ½ pounds yuca (can substitute with sweet potato), peeled

2 mini sweet red peppers,* seeded and finely chopped

1 culantro coyote leaf (page 147), finely chopped

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil


  1. Boil the yuca about 30 minutes, until soft. Drain the yuca and mash in a medium bowl.
  2. Add peppers, culantro, and salt and mix to combine.
  3. When cool enough to handle, roll mixture into plum-size balls, then flatten with your palm or the back of a spoon.
  4. In a frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat.
  5. Add yuca patties to oil. Do not crowd them in the pan; work in batches if necessary. Fry 3-4 minutes on each side, until browned and crispy. Remove to a paper towel–lined plate and serve hot or warm. (Alternatively, you can bake the patties on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.)

*You can find the sweet red peppers used in the Nicoya region of Costa Rica in American grocery stores in packs labeled “mini sweet peppers” or at Latin markets.

But if you can’t track them down, you can swap in one red or yellow bell pepper instead.