Yuca con mojo – yuca with mojo sauce – is a great substitute for a mashed potato dish. The yuca is satisfyingly starchy and delicious when topped with the garlicky onion-y mojo sauce.
Yuca con mojo is a dish you’ll find at almost any Cuban party and around the family dinner table at least a few times a month. Yuca, a starchy, inexpensive, and versatile edible root found in the Americas is a staple in the diet of many Caribbean and Latin American cultures. It’s slowly working its way into the mainstream American diet because it’s delicious. You can fry yuca, boil it, steam it, mash it, roast it… it’s like a potato without being a potato. My two favorite ways to enjoy it are fried and boiled with some mojo with extra garlic on the side.
If you don’t know what yuca is, yuca, also called cassava, is that long waxy-looking brown thing in your grocery store’s produce section. It looks intimidating, impossible to cut, and you’ve probably breezed right past it several times. Not all stores sell it fresh though, especially if it’s still rather unknown to the area, so you can also check your grocery freezers in the “international” section by the Hispanic foods for already peeled yuca.
When I started cooking yuca at home, I only bought the frozen kind because the fresh yuca intimidated me until I had more opportunity to watch the Godfather’s family prepare fresh yuca. The trick to preparing fresh yuca is to buy roots that aren’t super thick, and peel using a serrated Y-peeler. Once I learned those lessons, preparing fresh yuca was no longer frightening, which is great, since fresh yuca makes better fries and boils better in my opinion.
Yuca on its own is rather bland, which is why I think it pairs so well with a strong flavored sauce like mojo. Mojo is a Cuban garlic sauce with a ton of onions, and oh so much flavor. It’s also served with chicken, but a sauce this good and this easy to make deserves to be shared with more than one dish! I always make up my mojo while the yuca is boiling, and both are done at approximately the same time, which is perfect when planning cooking order to get your meal on the table. You can also make it in advance and then just reheat before serving.
Before I leave you with the recipe for yuca con mojo, I’d like to add one quick note about the mojo sauce… the garlic might turn green. If your garlic turns green when making mojo, don’t panic, you didn’t do anything wrong! The garlic will turn green at a certain heat when cooked with an acid (the lime juice). This doesn’t mean it’s gone bad, it’s just fine to eat and doesn’t change the flavor of the sauce.
- 2.5 lbs fresh or frozen yuca
- ½ cup olive oil
- 5-6 garlic coves
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 medium onion (sweet or yellow), sliced thin
- If you're using fresh yuca, peel the roots, and cut into 4-5 inch sections. If your yuca is very wide, cut the yuca in half or even quarters.
- Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot. Add a bit of salt, and your yuca.
- Cook the yuca 15-20 minutes until fork tender. Remove from the water and set aside.
- While the yuca is boiling, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium low heat. Add the onions, garlic, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until the onions are translucent. Keep the heat low so the garlic doesn't burn.
- Once the onions are translucent and soft, pour in the lime juice and cook the mojo for 2 minutes more.
- You may either stir the mojo into the yuca at this point, or serve them separately so everyone can top their yuca with as much mojo as desired. Enjoy!