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Yuca fingers


In Cuba, cooks fry yuca in large chunks, which is fine for a side dish. But when I started playing with yuca as an appetizer for my parties at home, I came up with French fry–sized yuca fingers, more delicate and attractive and also easier to handle, like the yuca fries I had seen in other Latin American countries.


Yuca Fingers With Cilantro Sauce Presilla

Serves 6 to 8.

From “Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America,” by Maricel E. Presilla, who said she never imagined that yuca fries with cilantro sauce would become as popular as they have. The result of her curious exploration of Latin tubers and dipping sauces in the early 1980s, the pairing is now served in Cuban restaurants all over the United States. Locally, there is a similar version served at Brasa restaurant.

  • 3 lb. fresh yuca, peeled and cut into 5-in. chunks, or 2 lb. frozen yuca
  • Corn oil or light olive oil for deep-frying
  • Salt
  • Creamy Cilantro Sauce Presilla (see below)


Boil the yuca in 3 quarts of water with salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and cook at a gentle boil until soft but not falling apart, about 30 minutes. Drain in a colander and let cool.

Cut the yuca lengthwise into 3- to 5-inch-long fingers about an inch thick, like French fries. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and arrange the yuca fingers on it in a single layer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or waxed paper and refrigerate until chilled and firm, preferably overnight. (The yuca can be refrigerated for 2 to 3 days before frying.)

Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add the yuca fingers a few at a time to the hot oil and turn until lightly golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve at once with Creamy Cilantro Sauce Presilla.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

  • Calories 263 Fat 9 g Sodium 16 mg Saturated fat 1 g
  • Carbohydrates 43 g Calcium 17 mg
  • Protein 2 g Cholesterol 0 mg Dietary fiber 2 g
  • Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 other carb, 2 fat.
Yuca fingers via Blogger

Creamy Cilantro Sauce Presilla

Makes 2 cups.

  • 2 c. mayonnaise
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 c. well-packed cilantro leaves, washed and dried
  • 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/3 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Juice of 1 lime (2 tbsp.)
  • Salt to taste


Place mayonnaise in a blender or food processor. Add the garlic, cilantro, hot pepper, cumin, allspice and oregano. Process until smooth. Season with the lime juice and salt to taste. (You may need less salt if you use prepared mayonnaise.)

Nutrition information per 1 tablespoon:

  • Calories 100 Fat 11 g Sodium 78 mg Saturated fat 2 g
  • Carbohydrates 1 g Calcium 3 mg
  • Protein 0 g Cholesterol 5 mg Dietary fiber 0 g
  • Diabetic exchanges per serving: 2 fat.

Butternut squash and tahini spread

Serves 6 to 8.

Note: Authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi say, “This dip seems to be fantastically popular with anyone who tries it. There is something about the magical combination of tahini and pumpkin or squash that we always tend to come back to.” Serve as a starter with bread or as part of a meze selection. Date syrup can be found in health food stores and Middle Eastern markets. From “Jerusalem: A Cookbook.”

  • 1 very large butternut squash (almost 2 1/2 lb.), cut into large chunks (7 c.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Salt
  • 5 tbsp. light tahini paste
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/2 c. Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. mixed black and white sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. date syrup (see Note)
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Yuca fingers via Margie Caroline


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread out the squash in a medium roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over squash, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Mix together and cover pan tightly with foil. Roast for 70 minutes, stirring once during cooking. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Remove peel and transfer the squash to a food processor, along with the tahini, garlic and yogurt. Roughly pulse until combined into a rough paste, without the spread becoming smooth. This can be done by hand using a fork or potato masher. Spread the paste in a wavy pattern on a large flat plate; sprinkle with the sesame seeds, drizzle syrup and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with crackers or bread.

Nutrition information per each of 8 servings:

  • Calories 163 Fat 11 g Sodium 22 mg Saturated fat 2 g
  • Carbohydrates 15 g Calcium 106 mg
  • Protein 4 g Cholesterol 1 mg Dietary fiber 4 g
  • Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 bread/starch, 2 fat.

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