Today’s recipe comes with an award. Or to be precise: it comes with two awards. Maricel Presilla, its author, made history again. Her book The Food of Latin America – Gran Cocina Latina won the 2013 Best Cooking Book James Beard Award.
In 2012 she had won another James Beard Award (which is like a culinary Oscar) as Best Mid Atlantic Chef. Two James Beard Awards in two consecutive years is a lot and adds to Maricel amazing career as restaurateur and food historian.
I tasted these yuca fingers with cilantro mojo when I met Maricel last November. Since then, this is a favorite appetizer in my house.
The only reason I don’t make this more often, it’s because of the fried yucca fingers and the calories…
But I guarantee that once you try both the yuca fingers and the cilantro mojo, you won’t stop cooking and eating them. Don’t blame me. Blame Maricel.
Yuca Fingers with Cilantro Mojo “a la Presilla”
Ingredients for the cilantro mojo
1 cup of mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 cup of well packed cilantro leaves, rinsed and dried
½ jalapeño pepper, seeded and deveined
½ teaspoon of ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
¼ teaspoon of dried oregano
1-2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice
Process all ingredients in a blender until smooth and creamy. The idea is to blend so well than you won’t see any pieces of cilantro leaves and the mojo is velvety.
Ingredients for the yuca fingers
2 pounds of frozen yuca
Salt to taste
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
In a pot with water and salt, boil the yucca until tender (but not falling apart).
Drain the yucca in a colander and let cool.
Cut the yucca lengthwise into 2 to 3-inch-long fingers.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the yucca in a single layer. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and firm.
In a large saucepan or deep skillet, heat oil enough to fry the yuca and fry it in batches, until lightly golden on all sides.
Drain the yuca on paper towels.
Serve hot with a bowl of cilantro mojo on the side.
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