Tapioca, manioca, cassava, yuca. It goes by many names and you may already know how to cook this tropical tuber. However, are you familiar with its powder form?
Dried yuca is typically referred to as tapioca starch or cassava flour. It is obtained from the dried root and has many culinary uses.
Photo: Pan de Yuca, Brazil
Tapioca: Heavy in Calories, Zero Gluten
From a nutritional standpoint, tapioca starch doesn't really stand out. A portion of 100 grams contains 360 calories, which are mostly carbohydrates. Cassava flour does not provide significant amounts of protein, fatty acids, vitamins or minerals. In short, its nutritional profile is very similar to wheat flour. With a small but significant difference: it does not contain gluten.
Tapioca Flour: Uses
So what is tapioca starch good for? In North America and Europe cassava flour is used to thicken soups and sauces, much like one would use potato starch, cornstarch or rice flour.
In Latin America one of its most popular uses is as a base for breads that are naturally gluten free.
Cassava Flour: Breads and Desserts
The Dominican Republic is known for its delicious casabe, a pre-Colombian flatbread made from cassava flour which is readily available at markets and bakeries throughout the island.
Photo: Dominican Cooking
Pan de yuca, a cheesy cassava bread, is another specialty in places like Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. This video recipe illustrates the cooking process but you can find the pan de yuca recipe here.
In terms of desserts, northern Brazil has gifted the world cuscuz, a creamy pudding made with tapioca, milk, coconut and sugar.
Of course, these recipes are just the tip of the iceberg. Use them as inspiration to create your own cassava-infused wonders.
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