Chulitos (Cassava Mini-Rolls) are humble, but in my opinion, these are one of the best buffet dishes in Dominican cuisine.
Chulitos de Yuca are the quintessential street food: delicious, but not fully appreciated. Chulitos can be made filled with meat (the traditional way) or cheese or just plain.
Someone gave me a deep-fat-fryer about a month ago and it sat in my kitchen, ignored, until just last week. I was having such a hard time with the notion of sinking foods into so much hot sizzling oil, tightly contained in a bin-like receptacle plugged into the wall. And my arteries collapsing under the weight of it all.
But then I thought, Oh my God, I can make so many things! Things like Chulitos (Cassava Mini-Rolls).
As an initiation to my deep fat frying experience, I admit, I made chicken wings and potato skins, which were awesome - but hardly típico, you know? The night after that, we did tostones – and they were also awesome. Wow, I realized. Now I can make everything from kipes to pastelitos! Bollitos and chulitos, as well. An endless list of deep-fried delights.
It’s pretty easy; the food is placed in a basket and into the machine, which has this cool handle and a switch that lifts it up from (and into) the bubbling evil. There’s no splattering, no grease-fire freak-outs, and very little clean-up, de ñapa. Now I’m constantly searching out deep-frying ideas – which is sort of scary, if you consider that I’m in charge of meals, 7 days a week, for a family of four, and too much-fried food might alter their growth patterns or something. So I will try and control myself and make only the occasional fritura.
About our recipe
Chulitos de yuca is not something that Dominicans make at home. Aunt Clara's first experience with chulito was the very famous fritura in her childhood neighborhood. People would travel from far to have the spicy chulitos at Doña Dinorah's fritura. This is the recipe that she has recreated to great success.
Jill, a member of our original team (where we knew her as Aunt Jane), and contributor to our book, is Canadian, mom to two Canadian-Dominican boys and resided in the Dominican Republic for several years.
For the filling
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small [20g] red onion, minced
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed [20g]
- 1/4 lb [0.12 kg] of minced beef
- 1 cup of tomato sauce
- 1/2 bell pepper minced
- 2 tablespoons of finely chopped cilantro, or parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon of pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 Scotch bonnet pepper , chopped (or hot sauce to taste)
For the rolls
- 1.5 lbs [0.7 kg] of cassava , peeled and washed
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt (or more, to taste)
- 2 cups of oil for frying (corn, peanut or soy)
Making the filling for Chulitos (See Video)
- Heat oil over medium-low heat. Stir in onion 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 tomato sauce, add bell pepper, salt, and pepper. Stir and cover. Simmer for 3 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste if needed. Mix in Scotch bonnet pepper or hot sauce to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside.
How to make Chulitos
- Grate the cassava with the least coarse side of the grater, or using the grating attachment of the food processor.
- With a clean cotton cloth squeeze the ground cassava to get rid of excess liquid. Eliminate this liquid.
- Season the cassava mix with salt and mix well.
- Put two tablespoons of the mixture in the palm of your hand. Flatten it and put a teaspoon of the cooked meat in the center. Put a 2 more tablespoons of cassava on top and roll the cassava mixture over it forming small rolls, seal the ends. Squeeze to compact.
- Heat oil in small frying pan (oil should be at least 1 inch [2.5cm]-deep) over medium heat. Deep fry the rolls until they turn golden brown. Be careful with splatters.
- Serve warm.