Cassava (also know as Manioc, or Yuca) is a staple of both African and Brazilian cookery. The starchy root which must be either cooked or dried and fermented in order to safely consume is rich in carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C.
Cassava flour is growing in popularity in the U.S, market especially among chefs interested in crafting gluten-free baked goods. Traditionally, in both Africa and South America, cassava flour is processed through drying and fermentation in a method similar to that used with chocolate or coffee. This method renders harmless the toxins that naturally are found in the root and make it safe to consume.
Otto’s Naturals is a new company with products now available throughout California that offers a pre-baked rather than fermented cassava flour. Their unique process also results in a more consistent and refined product that should be interesting to chefs attempting to replicate delicate wheat-based baked goods where the slightly musty aroma of traditionally-processed cassava flour might become a distraction.
Cassava flour’s wonderful starchiness provides a great chewy texture to flat-breads, tortillas, and fry breads, making them perfect accompaniments to spicy soups, curries, and chili.