Peruvian Cuisine Week: Cassava & Cheese Croquettes

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April 30, 2014

Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen by Chef Martin Morales explores Peru's food traditions including seaside dishes such as ceviche as well as street food favorites.  Cassava and cheese croquettes, or bolas de yuca, is a delicious fried snack that can be found on the busy streets of Lima.  Cassava (also known as yuca) is a versatile tuber that is used extensively in Peruvian cooking.  It is often available at Latin, African, or Indian markets.  This tuber has a high starch content and works really well as a base for a dough.  You can can make an extra batch of this recipe and freeze them until they are needed.

BOLAS DE YUCA
Cassava & Cheese Croquettes
Makes 8

Cassava is believed to be one of the oldest tubers grown in Peru. You might recognize it by its other name, yuca. You can buy it fresh from some West Indian or African markets or frozen from Indian shops.

9 oz / 250 g cassava, peeled, fibrous parts discarded, and cut into chunks
1 tbsp amarillo chile paste (page 226)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 1/2 tsp / 25 g butter
1 egg yolk
Juice of 1 lime
Scant 2 oz / 50 g aged Cheddar cheese
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
1 portion Huancaina Sauce
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the coating:
1 egg
Scant 1/2 cup / 50 g panko or dried bread crumbs
All-purpose flour, for dusting

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add some salt. Add the cassava and cook until it is soft; this should take at least 30 minutes. Drain the cassava and mash (using a food mill if possible) immediately while it is very hot. Add the chile paste, garlic, butter, egg yolk, and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly.

When the mixture has cooled down and firmed up a bit, divide it into 8 equal portions. Cut the cheese into 8 equal cubes. Use your hands to mold each portion of cassava mixture around each cube of cheese so that the cheese is completely encased by the cassava mixture. Shape into balls roughly the size of golf balls.

For the coating, break the egg into a shallow bowl and beat lightly. Put the bread crumbs in a second shallow bowl. Dust the balls in the flour and then dip each one into the egg and then in the bread crumbs.

If you have a deep fryer, heat the vegetable oil to 340°F / 170°C.If not, pour the oil to a depth of about 2 inches / 5 cm into a large, deep saucepan, making sure that it is no more than half full. To test if the oil is hot enough, drop in a cube of bread; if it sizzles and turns golden, the oil is ready.

Fry the balls in the hot oil, turning them, until they are golden brown all over. Cook in batches to avoid overcrowding.

Drain the croquettes on paper towels and serve while still hot with a side of Huancaina Sauce.

BASIC CHILE PASTE

This basic chile paste works with any of the chiles, but the pastes you’ll find used most often in this book are made with amarillo, panca, or rocoto.

Put 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat and then add 3 1/2 oz / 100 g frozen or fresh seeded chiles of your choice or 1 tbsp / 35 g reconstituted seeded and roughly chopped dried chiles, and 1/2  a finely chopped small onion. Sauté over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Add 2 crushed garlic cloves and sauté for 5 minutes until everything is very soft, being careful to make sure it doesn’t take on any color.

Put the contents of the saucepan into a food processor or blender and blitz until smooth. Store in the fridge in a sterilized jar (see Notes).

Makes about 3/4 cups / 190 g.

HUANCAINA SAUCE

This is one of Peru’s great sauces. At Ceviche, we serve it as a dip alongside fried cassava or stirred through Macaroni with Huancaina and Cheese Sauce (page 116).  

Heat a dash of olive oil in a frying pan over medium and sauté 1 chopped small white onion and 1 clove garlic until translucent. Transfer to a food processor or blender, add 4 tablespoons amarillo chile paste, 7 tablespoons / 100 ml vegetable oil, 1 3/4 oz / 50 g Fresh Cheese or feta cheese, and 1 1/2 cups / 350 ml evaporated milk, and blitz until smooth. Add 3/4 cup / 50 g crushed cream crackers (or water crackers) and blitz again. Add more oil, salt, crackers, or even a squeeze of lime if needed to ensure you have the right balance of flavors and creaminess.

Makes about 2 cups / 500 ml.

Reprinted with permission from Ceviche: Peruvian Kitchen by Martin Morales (Ten Speed Press, © 2014). Photo credit: Paul Winch-Furness.

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