Yaroa, flavorful, incredible dish that hails from Santiago, has become the newest classic in Dominican food, and is a newcomer to the street food scene in the Dominican Republic. This is a dish that checks every box in the "best street foods" checklist. Here's my take on it.
Why we ❤️ it
Sometimes we're lucky to be alive to witness the birth of history (culinary history specifically).
This is the quintessential Dominican street food: cheap, greasy, tasty, simple. It's the kind of thing that hits the spot after a night in town for young late noche revelers. A spot that was, until it was created, reserved for chimi and sandwich de pierna (Dominican burger, and pork sandwich)
Yaroa is a Dominican dish that consists of a layer of boiled and mashed ripe plantains -- or French fries -- topped with shredded or minced meat, lots of cheese, and drizzled with mayo and ketchup . Yaroa is a dish that was created (see the history) and made popular in Santiago by food trucks vendors and carritos.
There are two type of yaroas: yaroa de plátano maduro (yellow plantains, sweet plantains, or ripe plantain yaroa) and yaroa de papa frita (French fries yaroa).
Air fryer yaroa
This recipe gives you the choice to make a lighter, healthier yaroa platter by air-frying potato, or – for an even lighter choice – arracacha or cepa de apio.
Rousset potatoes are best for this dish, but whatever you have at hand will work. You can buy and use pre-cut potatoes too.
As an optional step, before you drizzle the yaroa with it, add a tablespoon of cold water to the ketchup and stir to make it a little runnier. Do the same with the mayo. Why add water to the condiments? Because I found that runnier ketchup and mayo works better here. Instead of tasting a mouthful of mayo when biting into it, the mayo and ketchup just kinda merge and... OK. It's hard to explain, just try it. If you don't like it, go back to normal mayo and ketchup.
If you want to make a chicken yaroa (not a traditional offer, BTW) you can layer your platter with shredded supermarket rotisserie chicken instead of minced beef. I suggest you double the amount of ketchup and mayo, as rotisserie chicken is dryier than minced beef.
If you don't want to make single-serving plates, you can layer the ingredients as indicated in the recipe in a lasagna baking pan and make it into a casserole type dish, Broil it instead of microwaving to melt the cheese.
For a lighter, healthier alternative, I've also given instructions to make them with arracacha (Andean celeriac), or sweet potatoes, as well as a baked / air fryer alternatives.
About this recipe
Yaroa purists beware (I don't even know if such people exist, but I'm about to find out) this recipe, while paying homage to the original, is not the traditional one. If you wish to make it the traditional way, it's simple: deep fry your potato fries and use them as the base. You can also use boiled mashed plantain, as this is is the other, equally popular, version of yaroa. In that case, do not add ripe plantains to the minced meat. Remember you can adapt it to your preference.
Now, why reinvent the wheel? Well, I make these cepa de apio (celeriac) "fries" all the time at home, so it occurred to me that I could also use them to make yaroa. And since I already wrote a recipe for a minced meat filling that has ripe plantain in it, this will still somehow be close to the original. I tested the recipe with both celeriac fries and potato fries, and both worked, but which one you choose will be a matter of taste. You could even get adventurous and test it with sweet potato fries too, but I didn't test that myself.
So let me tell you why you need to run to make this: it's very easy to make, it's ridiculously tasty, and you can feed an army with little effort. Don't skip the ripe plantain in the meat topping. You can thank me later.
[Recipe + Video] Mixed Yaroa (Dominican Loaded Fries)
If you make celeriac fries
If you make potato fries
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, [20g]
- 1 red onion, (medium-size, minced [65 g]
- 3 cloves garlic, [20g]
- 1 pound minced beef, [454g]
- 1 cup tomato sauce, [115g]
- 1 bell pepper, (diced [76g]
- 1½ teaspoon salt, (or more, to taste), divided
- ½ teaspoon pepper (freshly-cracked, or ground)
- 1 sprig cilantro, (chopped)
- ½ cup diced fritos maduros, see recipe (optional)
If you're making celeriac fries
- Place the celeriac sticks in microwave-safe pan. Pour enough water to cover them. Microwave for 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave and the water.
Whichever fries you make, continue here
- Drizzle the potato or celeriac with the olive oil, and add the salt, as well as the pepper, and garlic powder. Stir with a spatula or toss to coat them all in the oil and seasoning. Set aside while you pre-heat the oven or air fryer. Heat the oven to 350 ºF [175 ºC], or the air fryer to the temperature suggested by the manufacturer.
- Place on a baking sheet and cook in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until they turn a light golden color and are crispy around the edges.If you want to make them in the air fryer cook the time suggested by the manufacturer and check for doneness.
You can see the preparation (with video) for the meat in this post.
- Heat the oil in a pot or large skillet over medium heat. Stir in onions and cook and stir until it turns translucent. Add garlic and cook stirring for a minute.Add minced meat and cook and stir, breaking into small clumps until it browns.
- Pour in the tomato sauce, add bell pepper, salt, and black pepper. Stir and cover. Simmer for 3 minutes. Uncover and mix in the fried plantains.Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste if needed. Remove from the heat.
To assemble it
- Layer the fries onto 4 microwave-safe plates. Top with a middle layer of steaming-hot meat. Sprinkle with mozzarella and cheddar. The hot meat should melt the cheese, but if it doesn't, heat the plates in the microwave for 90 seconds, or until the cheese melts. You can also broil it instead of microwaving it, per instructions above the recipe.Drizzle with mayo and ketchup and serve right away.
Tips and Notes
Nutritional information is calculated automatically based on ingredients listed. Please consult your doctor if you need precise nutritional information.
As is the case with chimi, there is some dispute as to who first created this dish. With Yaroa there is more than one vendor claiming the credit for themselves.
Its popularity has now spread beyond its birthplace, even debuting as part of the menu of a well known Dominican fast-food chain which made it available everywhere from Puerto Plata to Santo Domingo. But – for the most part – it remains a Santiago delicacy.
Since there is no word for word translation for yaroa to English, the most adecuate English translation for yaroa is Dominican loaded fries.
Yaroa originated in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Traditionally, Yaroa is made with a bottom layer of French fries (Yaroa de papa) or mashed sweet plantains (Yaroa de plátano), a middle layer of minced beef in tomato sauce and a top layer of melted cheddar. It is then drizzled with mayo and ketchup.
Published Jul 9, 2020, and last revised