Yuca en escabeche (Puerto Rican yuca salad) is a wonderful side dish with a zippy dressing made with oil, vinegar, onions and garlic. Try serving this instead of potato salad at your next gathering!
Yuca en Escabeche Recipe
If you’ve never had yuca en escabeche then you are in for a treat! I like to think of it like potato salad, except with yuca instead of potatoes.
And instead of a mayonnaise dressing, the yuca is marinated or “pickled” in a garlicky oil and vinegar sauce.
It’s also a delicious potluck recipe if you double or triple the recipe. And it’s not just for barbecues. Last time I had it was at a Fiesta de Reyes.
I like my version the best, but the great thing about doing your own cooking is that you can make it just the way you like.
I’ll walk you through the recipe and offer some changes you can make to suit your family’s taste.
Puerto Rican Yuca Recipe
First, the yuca. Yuca is the same thing as cassava, it’s what we call it in Spanish. It’s a starchy root and it must be thoroughly cooked or it can be toxic.
It’s the same food tapioca is made of, so you have an idea of its chewy texture. Or maybe you’ve had yuca fries before?
It’s a really popular food in the Caribbean, but also in Asia. When we were in Vietnam they served us boiled pieces of yuca with sweet and salty ground peanuts for dipping!
To make yuca en escabeche you can start with the raw yuca if you can find it in the produce department. It has a brown skin that will need to be peeled first.
To make things simple, I use a bag of frozen yuca that’s already peeled and ready to boil.
One time I was peeling chayote squash and my hands swelled up like balloons and the skin started peeling off my fingers like a snake! You probably didn’t want to know that, but I’d rather not deal with peeling vegetables if I can help it!
After the yuca has boiled, give it a rinse so it’s not so sticky. You’ll then want to remove the “stems” in the core.
These are tough, woody pieces in the middle of the yuca that can be discarded as you cut the yuca in bite-sized chunks (like potato salad).
Next, prepare the marinade by simmering sliced onion in olive oil. You can use any type of onion you prefer, but I like red onions for their taste and pop of color.
Punch up the flavor with some minced garlic. I usually use 2 cloves, but if you want it more like mojo de ajo, use more. If you want the other flavors to be more prominent, use less.
Finally, add the white vinegar. The recipe has a very balanced ratio of oil to vinegar. If you would like your yuca en escabeche to be more zippy, feel free to add more.
Start small and add more after tasting. It’s always about tasting as you go!
The final addition are some green olives stuffed with pimientos. If you’ve been following me for a while then you know I absolutely love, love love green olives!
I don’t understand how so many people hate them! But, for those who don’t I just leave the olives whole or sliced in half so they’re easy to pick out (just give them all to me).
Also, a lot of people add extra canned pimentos since the olives don’t have much inside of them.
Other additions: capers and/or bay leaf. The capers pack a briny punch like olives and the bay leaf gives the marinade a mild, savory “herbaceous” flavor.
I definitely recommend letting this sit for a while before serving. The flavors only get better the longer it sits and it gives the yuca a chance to soak it all up. I put mine in the fridge overnight. Buen provecho!
SAVE THIS PIN FOR LATER!
- 1 pound fresh or frozen yuca
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced (white, Spanish or red)
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 heaping tablespoons green olives stuffed with pimientos
- 2 tablespoons sliced pimiento (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water and add yuca, making sure yuca is completely covered with water. Bring to a boil again, then lower heat and continue boiling for 20-30 minutes. Yuca will begin to split and lose its opaque color.
- Drain and rinse the yuca. Remove the woody, stringy centers of the yuca and discard. Cut the yuca into 1-inch chunks and place in a large bowl; set aside.
- In a medium pan over low heat, simmer the olive oil and onions until softened but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and vinegar and simmer for an additional minute; remove from heat.
- In a large bowl, combine the yuca, oil mixture, green olives and sliced pimientos (if using). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Taste and add additional vinegar if you would like it with more zip.
- Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving.