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Tapioca root is the underground portion of the Cassava plant. The tropical bush-like plant has edible palm-like leaves at the end of long reddish-colored stems. The plant branches irregularly and can grow to the size of a small tree if allowed. The large, tapered Tapioca roots are similar in size and shape to a sweet potato. The tuber has an inedible shiny brown skin with rough patches and faint growth rings ascending down to the tip. The starchy flesh of the Tapioca root is a light white or cream color and has a grainy texture like potatoes with a mild, sweet flavor.
Tapioca root is soaked in water and often repeatedly washed prior to its use to get rid of the saponins. Tapioca root has a variety of applications; most commonly the tuber is ground into flour and used as a thickener for soups, stews, and as a gluten-free flour substitute. The uses for Tapioca root aren't just limited to flour. Once the brown skin is cut or peeled away, the starchy flesh can be cut into bite-sized pieces and blanched prior to cooking. Cut into strips, the root makes a good substitute for French fries. Tapioca root can be boiled, baked, or fried. After peeling the root, soak in a bowl of water, changing the water multiple times until it's clear. Slice the root thinly into chips to either bake or fry, similar to potato chips. Tapioca cut into chunks can be boiled to prepare and added to curries and stews.
Like potatoes, Tapioca root also stores well. Tapioca root can be kept in a cool pantry for up to a month. Prepared Tapioca root should be used within a day.
2 pounds cassava (yuca)
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Ground black pepper