Tag Archives: soy protein

Yucca and Soy Fritters

9 May

Paraguayans eat a lot of yucca… they call it mandioca and it’s a daily staple in their diet.

I was forewarned by my mom and other people who’ve been to the Yoga Center in Paraguay that I would have mandioca coming out of my ears by the end of our trip. To be honest… we ate mandioca in various ways, but I never felt overwhelmed by it.

One of my favorite ways to have yucca while we were in Paraguay was in a fritter form. Girl is Latin and we LOOOVE all things fried, no?

We made these as a form of karma yoga to help out an orphanage. My friend Ester and her husband help out this orphanage regularly and the organizer told them a few days prior that their pantry was empty and there are nothing for them to feed the kids with. So Ester and Ferreira rallied a few of us visiting them in Coronel Oviedo to help out the kids.  We made over 200 of these fritters… we only kept a few for ourselves and the rest was given to the kids.

They’re delicious. This is an adaptation of a local dish in Paraguay… the original name is in Guaraní, their native Paraguayan tongue. It’s traditionally made with ground beef but our version uses textured soy protein. The locals say the secret is in how you season it, because none of the non-vegetarians were able to tell the difference.

We did this recipe in very large scale as you will appreciate by the pictures… this is my scaled down version. You can certainly freeze the extra tortas and fry at a later occasion.  Thanks to Ester and Ferreira for the recipe…

YUCCA AND SOY FRITTERS

4 large yucca roots, peeled and scrubbed clean
1 cup of dry textured soy protein, soaked in 2 -3 cups of filtered water
1 green bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into pieces
1 bunch of scallions, roots removed and cut in thirds
8-10 garlic cloves, peeled
1 ½ cups of soy sauce
About 3-4 cups of fine cormeal flour
Canola Oil to fry the fritters in
  1. First we boil the yuccas… after the yucca pieces are well-peeled, cut, scrubbed clean making sure the inner core with the tough thread removed, you put them in a pot with plenty of salted water to boil.

We peeled and cooked a whole "saco" of mandioca...

2. Cover the pot while boiling and reduce the heat once it’s reached a rolling boiling point to prevent the bottom pieces from scorching. Boil the yucca pieces until they’re fork tender.

3. After the yucca is cooked, allow it to cool off and dry out a bit over clean kitchen cloths or towels.

4. While the yucca cooks we prepare the sofrito and the soy protein…

5. Using a hand grinder we make the sofrito by mixing the green and red peppers, the garlic cloves and the scallions. Using the hand grinder gives you a coarser texture than using a food processor. But if you don’t have a grinder, pulsing the veggies in your food processor will do just fine. Pulse until the mixture is well ground but not liquidy yet. Set aside.

6. The soy protein should be left to soak in the water for about 30 minutes. After it has soaked for that long and it’s now soft and tripled in size, drain and squeeze it dry. I use a fine mesh strainer and squeeze it using my fist. It does not have to be bone-dry, but it should not be wet and dripping.

7. Place the dried-out soy protein in a large bowl. Add about 1 cup of the sofrito mixture you created. Save any leftover unless it’s just a small amount and just add it up. Add the soy sauce to season and mix everything well. Set aside.

8. Now that the yucca has cooled off, we grind it using the hand grater. This is a labor of love, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts afterwards. It’s not so bad doing a smaller batch like this one. But we made it for 200+ fritters and we had to take turns grinding yucca. So don’t be surprised with your arm hurts a bit afterwards.

9. After the yucca is ground, add it to the soy mixture. You can add it in batches while you’re grinding it. The yucca is very starchy and it’ll mix into the soy better if it’s just ground. The best way to mix this is using your very clean hands. Mix together the yucca and the soy until you have a homogeneous mixture that’s more yucca than soy.

10. Add about 1 cup of the fine cornmeal and mix well once again. We’re ready to make the fritters…

11. Prepare a tray with some cornmeal in the bottom. The mixture is sticky and the cornmeal will prevent them from sticking too much to the tray or your hands.

12. Using a generous amount of corn flour, create tennis-sized balls. Use plenty of corn flour… don’t be afraid to use it. After a ball is created, pat it into a patty. Set aside on the corn flour dusted tray. Keep making fritters until you run out of mixture.

13. In a large skillet filled with about 1 inch with oil over medium high heat, we fry the fritters. After you put them in, leave them until they develop a crust on one side. They’re soft and they’ll break apart if you move them around before once side if crispy. Sometimes it helps if you do not crowd the pan too much and if you spoon some of the hot oil over the fritter so that the top side hardens just a tad bit before flipping.

14. Flip them carefully using a spatula and fry golden brown on the other side.

15. Drain over a clean paper towel over a tray… wait a bit until they cool off to take a bite.

These fritters are a bit of a labor of love… but they’re well worth it. If you’re Paraguayan and know the name in Guaraní of this fritter, please share it with us in the comment section. GRACIAS!!!

Advertisements

Pasteles in Banana Leaves

23 Dec

This is a very labor-intensive dish… the very same reason why most people in Puerto Rico buy their “pasteles” from someone who has the experience and the patience to make these.  In our yoga center, Mai, Mili and Katy are the pasteles experts.  They even make them to sell to anyone who’s interested in a delicious vegetarian version.

Pasteles hold the essence of the Puerto Rican holiday dinner…  a Xmas season without pasteles is like a day without sunshine, a beach without sand…  you have not eaten true Puerto Rican holiday food until you have one of these.

The whole deal is this MASA made from green banana and yautía filled with a soy-based stew.   Then it’s all wrapped in a banana leaf that will actually give the masa some of its flavor.  It’s very characteristic and you can find banana leaves in the refrigerated or produce section of a Latin supermarket.   Pasteles without at least a piece of banana leaf miss something.

 

This is a yautía… in Cuba, yautías are called malangas.  However, in Puerto Rico we call malanga a completely different tuber.  Do not confuse them.  I looked up in the internet and apparently it may also be called tanier = tannier = tannia.  Don’t know where, but if you can’t find them by the yautía name, any of other those might also work.  Yautías come in two varieties – white and purple.  You will need yautía blanca or white yautía for this dish.

    

 

PASTELES IN BANANA LEAVES

12 green bananas
1lb white yautía
¾ cups milk
1 ½ tsp salt
2tbs sofrito
2 tbs annatto oil
Filling:
½ cup textured soy protein – in cubes, soaked in filtered water for about ½ hour
1 small potato, cubed small
1 cup cooked chickpeas or garbanzo beans
2 cups mixed vegetables
½ cup raisins (optional)
½ cup sliced Spanish stuffed olives
3 tbs sofrito
2 tbs tomato paste
2 cups water
1 tbs olive oil
 
20-25 pieces of paper to roll pastels
Banana leaves – cut into rectangles of 10” x 8” approximately
Cotton kitchen twine

 

  1. Peel the banana and yautía and shred them using a food processor or a machine called Champion.  I have seen this machine also be used at Iron Chef America competition.
  2. Add the sofrito, salt, annatto oil and milk to the banana and yautía mixture.  Mix it all well to create a homogenous smooth mixture.  The annatto oil will provide a bright yellowy/orangey color to the mixture.  Set aside.

Now we make the filling…

  1. In a large saucepan, cook the olive oil along with salt, sofrito and tomato paste.    Add the garbanzo beans, soy protein, potato and water and cook everything for about 15-20 minutes. 
  2. Add the mixed vegetables and the raisins, if using.  Cook everything for about 15 more minutes.  Once everything is cooked, add the olives.

Now we assemble the pasteles…

  1. Place a banana leaf on top of the pastel paper (it’s similar to butcher’s paper). 
  2. Take a little bit of the sauce of the soy mixture and wet the banana leaf. 
  3. Take a large cooking spoon and spoon about a spoonful of masa in the center of the banana leaf.  Using the spoon, form a well in the center of the mixture and place about 2 tablespoons of the soy/vegetable mixture in the well. Carefully fold the leaf over, in order to cover the filling with masa on all sides. DO NOT over stuff them.
  4. Fold the paper like a letter and fold in the sides to create a compact package.  Tie them with cooking twine.  Be careful not to tie too tightly.
  5. Repeat this procedure until all the masa mixture has been used. You can now freeze or cook them when you are ready.  

When you are… 

  1. Place a large pot of salted water (as if you were to prepare pasta).  Boil the pasteles for about 45 minutes until the masa is cooked.  If you froze them, place them directly from the freezer onto the boiling water and boil for about 1 hour.
  2. Drain them well when you take them out of the water…  it’s not nice to have a puddle of pastel water in your plate when serving yourself the rest of the Xmas dinner.  Many people, including me, enjoy pasteles with a drizzle of ketchup on top.
%d bloggers like this: