One of the most popular foods in Panama is the yuca (cassava) we can have it boiled for breakfast or at noon for lunch, one can make fritters stuffed with meat (carimañolas) or it can be dipped in a sauce or Mojo; is the perfect accompaniment for fried fish and usually you will find it in the sancocho. To these and other preparations we can add the fried cassava, either directly (raw), which gives a very crisp texture or boiled beforehand for a softer texture.
These tidbits of fried yucca work marvelously with caramelized onion chutney, a rich combination that I’m sure you will love. If you don’t have time or desire to make the chutney yourself, you can always buy it and in this case I recommend you try the yucca with mango chutney, another great combination of flavors.
I hope you feel encouraged to make these at home. This twosome is a perfect snack or appetizer.
- Oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- 2 onions, chopped (any kind will do, but red or purple onions give the best color and a sweeter taste)
- Olive or sunflower oil
- 1 cup vinegar. You can use sherry, red wine, balsamic or a combination of all
- 1 cup brown sugar
- A couple of bay leaves
- 10-15 black peppercorns
For the cassava
Wash, peel and chop the cassava in large pieces. Cook in boiling water until soft, but not too soft (10 – 15 minutes). When it has cooled a bit and can be handle without getting burned, cut the pieces into cubes. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the diced yuca until golden. Place them over paper towels to drain the excess of oil, put chopsticks in some of them and serve with the chutney.
Slice the onions and heat with a small amount of sunflower or olive oil in a stainless steel pan until soft. Add the chosen vinegar (or a mixture of vinegars), brown sugar, bay leaves and crushed black peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook over low heat for 1 to 1 ½ hours until the onions are transparent and all the liquid has evaporated.
If you want to keep this chutney for longer, up to 6 months, then pour the hot mixture directly into small sterilized jars, seal and store in a cool dark place or the fridge.
To keep it longer, a year or more, put the sealed jars into boiling water and let them simmer for 15 minutes. Line metal jar lids with greaseproof paper to protect them from the vinegar in the chutney.
Ideally, the chutney should be left to stand for 4-6 weeks to mature and all the flavors to blend; but if you make it the day before or a few days ahead it will be good too.
Finally, to this basic recipe you can add other ingredients according to your tastes or to experiment with flavors until you find the one you like. Some examples are a couple of garlic cloves, cumin, thyme, red currant jelly or jam, cloves, raisins, mustard or apple. You can also add a tablespoon of corn flour (cornstarch) to thicken the sauce.
Adapted from Self-Sufficient.co.uk