A very simple recipe , Batata y Yuca Fritas (Sweet Potato and Cassava Fries) can either be served as an appetizer or as a side dish.
If you are looking to two ingredients that speak of the history of Dominican food it has to be yuca (cassava) and batata (sweet potatoes).
Both yuca and batata were part of the Taino diet long before a European ever set foot on this side of the planet. As frying was not part of the Taino cuisine repertoire, we have to partly credit our Spanish ancestors for these Batata y Yuca Fritas (Sweet Potato and Cassava Fries).
These two ingredients are probably the most important elements in our kitchen bequeathed to us by our pre-Columbian ancestors. It is our luck that these roots, that grow easily in our island, have remained an important part of our culinary culture.
Yuca (cassava in English) is an edible tuberous plant, native to America, and that grows in the tropics.
Cassava tolerates poor soil and drought fairly well, which makes it an ideal crop for resource-poor populations. It is very rich in carbohydrates but poor in protein. The bitter variety of cassava is fairly toxic when not prepared correctly. But fear not, this variety is rarely available commercially nowadays.
Good cassava once cooked is very tender, with a rich buttery taste. It can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and goes well with nearly any dish in our cuisine. We have many recipes for you to try yuca.
Batata is another root vegetable, and known as sweet potato in English, though the particular type of sweet potato Dominicans know as batata is known as boniato or Japanese jam in the English-speaking world.
Its name originates from the Taino language and it grew on our island in pre-Columbian times. In the US sweet potatoes are often mislabeled as yams. Yams are of Asian/African origin.
There are many varieties of sweet potatoes. The one with orange flesh common in the US is now available in the DR, the most common one here has purple skin and greenish flesh. It is also sweeter and richer in starch than the orange one. This is important because in some dishes the lack of starch will yield poor results in your recipe (check out other recipes with batata)
About this recipe
These simple fritters are usually found in frituras, the humble neighborhood food stands, served as side dishes, but also as appetizers in fancier restaurants. You can also serve them to accompany your meat dishes.
I have chosen to offer a dip to go with them in case you want to offer it as finger food to your guests. This dip is not part of the traditional Dominican repertoire, just my own creation.
Batata y Yuca Fritas Recipe (Sweet Potato and Cassava Fries)
- 1 lb [0.45 kg] of sweet potatoes or cassava, (yuca), peeled
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 3 cups of oil for frying
For the dip
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- ⅓ cup of chopped parsley
- 4 cloves of garlic
- ¼ cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon of salt, (or more, to taste)
- Cut: Slice the sweet potatoes into about ¼-inch thick slices (if you use yuca cut it into sticks).
- Salt: Mix water and salt. Soak the cassava or sweet potatoes in 4 cups of salted water for half an hour. Remove the cassava or sweet potatoes from the water. Discard the water. Pat cassava or sweet potatoes dry with a paper towel.
- Fry: Heat the oil over medium fire. Fry cassava or sweet potatoes until light golden (be careful with splatters). Rest on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
How to make the sauce
- Make dip: Mix all the ingredients in the food processor to preferred consistency. Serve yuca and batata fries alongside dip.