If you don’t know what casabe (cassava bread) is, Aunt Ilana wrote a fantastic article that explains it all. You’d be well-served to read it.
If you know what casabe is, you are probably asking yourself why I have to write a recipe for it. After all, Dominicans don’t make casabe at home. We just walk to our nearest colmado or supermarket and choose from half a dozen varieties of this “bread”.
Casabe is an ancient food. Possibly the only dish native to the island that still remains part of our cuisine. Very little has changed in its preparation, mostly because of its impressively short list of ingredients (one!), and simple preparation.
Casabe is made by peeling, washing, grating, drying and heating yuca, the root that was the staple of the Taíno diet, and is still part of our diet today.
So what possessed me to even try this?
A few months ago a reader (hi Catherine!) wrote to me to tell me the story of her teaching some friends in Canada how to make casabe. She ended one the emails in our exchange with “Taino women would have been proud of me”.
I’m sure they would, Catherine.
Now, I have to warn you that Casabe is an acquired taste. It’s a vehicle, used to carry other tastes and is rarely ever eaten on its own. It has been variously compared to sawdust and cardboard by those not on the list of fans. The reality is that it has a very mild taste, but served with a dip it beats the competition when it comes to health advantages.
Casabe is very rich in fiber, has zero cholesterol, no sodium, no fat, and only a moderate carbohydrate content. It’s very filling and I consume it often for just this reason. Casabe is most commonly found served with mambá, the Dominican savory peanut butter, or with habichuelas con dulce, a uniquely Dominican dessert.
So go ahead, give it a try. And to make things a bit more interesting, I have added two options for flavored casabe. I hope you like it.
- 1 lb [0.48 kg] of cassava (yuca), peeled and washed
- ⅓ cup of freshly grated parmesan
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 2 garlic cloves crushed into a paste
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Grate the casava with the least coarse side of the grater.
- Using a clean cotton cloth, squeeze the cassava until you extract as much liquid as possible.
- Spread on a baking tray and leave in the fridge for an hour (the refrigerator acts as a dehumidifier.
- Heat oven to 250 ºF [120 ºC].
- Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
- Spread some cassava on it, making sure to break down any clumps before you do.
- Cook for 45 seconds, turn and cook for another 45 seconds, or until both sides are light golden.
- Once you have made all the cassava breads, place on a wire tray and bake for 5-10 minutes or until cassava has turned a light brown color (see pictures).
- Mix half the grated parmesan with the grated cassava before step 3. Proceed with the instructions above. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan before placing in the oven.
- Mix garlic and salt with the grated cassava before step 3. Proceed with the instructions above. Sprinkle with the olive oil before placing in the oven.
Aim for thin casabe - thinner casabe is crispier.
Place in a sealed bag and refrigerate - it should keep for weeks.