One trick to help you determine if a Cuban restaurant you are eating at is authentic is to look at their side dishes. If their menu doesn’t include Yucca con Mojo, walk out! Yucca, also known as cassava, is the Cuban equivalent to the potato. It can be prepared in lots of different ways and it’s the quintessential side dish to just about any Cuban meal.
Yucca is a hard, dense, starchy vegetable with a thick and waxy brown skin. When purchasing fresh yucca look for a waxy film on the skin and no soft spots. The entire vegetable should be hard and dense and the inside should be completely white.
As I mentioned above, there are many ways to prepare yucca. I love yucca fried served with a garlic dipping sauce on the side. In Columbia they make a Pan de Yuca which is a bread made with cassava dough. However, my favorite and very traditional way of serving yucca is the way my husband makes it, boiled for hours then served with Mojo, a olive oil based sauce with onion and garlic. Thankfully with the IP we can cut the time almost in half.
Instant Pot Yucca with Mojo
Recipe by Lana Horruitiner-Perez and Daniel Perez
2 lbs Yucca
1 cup Water
1/2 Large Yellow Onion, sliced
4-5 cloves Garlic, minced
1 cup Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 Tbl Lime Juice or 1 tsp Vinegar
-Cut off the ends of the Yucca and then peel the outer waxy skin. If using a vegetable peeler you will have to go over the yucca numerous times to get not only the waxy brown skin off, but also the thinner purple layer. You only want to see the white inside. Another easier method is to cut the yucca in half, stand it up on it’s end, and use a knife to cut off the outer peel.
-Cut the yucca into thirds. Some other recipes will tell you to cut the yucca into smaller pieces or to cut the pieces into fourths and core it. Yucca does have a woody core that needs to be removed, but a Cuban trick is to cook the pieces whole. They will naturally split in half or in fourths and you can then easily just pull out the woody center.
-Place the Instant Pot trivet or a steamer basket into your Instant Pot and add 1 cup of water. Place the Yucca on the trivet.
-Lock the top onto the Instant Pot and make sure the valve is set to “SEAL”. Pressure cook on High for 50 mins and then allow to NPR completely, approximately 15 minutes.
-Once it is done, remove the Yucca carefully into a bowl or serving dish. You will notice that the color will change from white to yellow. The pieces will split in half and you will see what looks like a string in the middle of the yucca. This is the woody center which you will need to remove with a fork or knife. Cover with foil.
-Once you have removed the yucca from the IP, take out the trivet and pour out the water. Rinse and dry the Instant Pot liner, replace in the IP, and then add a cup of Olive Oil. Press “SAUTE” and use the “ADJUST” button to put it on “LOW”.
-Add the sliced half of a Yellow Onion and 1 tsp Salt to the Olive Oil and saute on low until the onion is soft and almost translucent. You do not want it to brown. This will take about 10 mins or so. Stir occasionally.
-Add the minced Garlic and cook for another minute. Do not allow the garlic or the onion to brown.
-Add 1/2 Tbl Lime juice or 1 Tsp Vinegar. Add back the pieces of yucca and gently stir to rewarm and coat with sauce.
-Serve the Yucca and Onion with the sauce drizzled over it. Enjoy!