The things one can do with a Ricer ♥

The main reason I’d suffer if I went on zero carb diet: no yuca

A yuca memory of mine: Dad asks my mom “Yilla when are you cooking yuca?”(she did every few weeks).  

Mom is stirring a pot of Cow’s Foot soup, in a 98F kitchen, with no fan, no A/C, with my brother and sister playing Nintendo, and me reading a book.  She yells back (louder than was necessary) “Anytime, but you have to peel it…I’m not doing that!” –

She keeps stirring and calls “Oscar?, Chombo? alo?”

Mom walks out of the kitchen to look for my dad.   He is already outside, getting in the car and yelling back at her: “Heat up 2 pots, I’m bringing back about 8 pounds!” 

She walks back in the kitchen, shakes her head, and smiles and continues to stir the soup.

The story above is a testament to the toughest part of preparing yuca, peeling it.  Yes, you can buy peeled yuca but only frozen (that’s the only way I’ve found it in DMV area, back in Panama you can get fresh peeled yuca in sealed packages).

Here is a good instructional video for peeling Yuca made by a Yuca exporting company out of Costa Rica (click here)

…Just Kidding! I would never expect anyone to use a Rambo machete/knife and slice yucca that way… but that was pretty badass!

Here is a video demonstrating a more regular method: (peeling action starts at 2:40 click here)

The video actually shows a different peeling method than the one I use, but the yuca available in this area has some sort of wax coating (thicker than what I’ve seen), so it’s safer to peel it like the man on the videp: slice off the skin with a knife.

Once you have peeled the yuca, cut into equal sized pieces. Fill up at pot with cold water  and place  the cut yuca inside. Bring everything to a boil, add salt to taste.

You can stuff the carimañolas with any savory filling. Traditional Panamanian carimañolas are stuffed with ground beef, but boohoo I’m vegetarian (not anymore, but I still make them vegetarian update: 10/07/2013) now so, yes, I will make something different and delicious (of course purists will say, it’s not called carimañola anymore! But, guess what…? I don’t care!!!) **smiles lightly and walks back to the kitchen’s sink to wash her hands, eyes still locked on the camera** (yes i’m pretending I’m filming…OK? hehe)

Enough babbling, here is the recipe:

Vegetarian Carimañolas (yuca empanadas)

Yields: 20 carimañolas

4-5 lbs of yuca (Protip: Always buy more than the recipe calls for. The yuca is not always good underneath the waxy peel).

Tip: You can substitute non-stick spray or just flour instead of oil so the carimañolas don’t stick. 


(Make sure your filling has cooled off before you even start boiling the yuca, this makes the empanadas easier to fill)

3 tbs of cooked lentils
½ cup sauteed mushrooms (save the liquid from the mushrooms, don’t throw that away!)
1 tsp minced garlic
3 tbs chopped cilantro
1.5 cups grapeseed oil (or any frying oil)
salt, pepper
½ cup shredded Quesillo (cheese for pupusas, or any other good melting cheese)
1 tbs ketchup
1/2 tbs soy sauce
¼ cup crushed tomatoes
3 tbs of oil set aside

1.  Heat up a pan with 1 tbs of oil (until hot, near its smoke point)
2.  Saute all the veggies, add the garlic, seasonings, mushroom, crushed tomatoes and the juice you got out of sauteing the mushrooms.
3.  Lower the heat to simmer, add ketchup and soy sauce, taste. If you want to add some heat, go ahead and go wild with sriracha, chillies, tabasco, etc.
4.  Cool off before cooking the yuca.


These were specially made for the Boy Office’s Potluck. He said they enjoyed them, I surely hope so because they are my favorite tied #1 with another favorite fried food “Corn Empanadas”

Instructions for making the Carimañolas

1. Boil the yucca until it almost breaks apart.  Strain and remove the hard root in the middle of each yuca. Some roots will fall but some will still be stuck on the yuca. Put aside the hard pieces and save them to fry later on since you won’t be able to mash them properly.
2. While piping hot, pass the boiled yuca through a ricer.
3. Have your bowls ready with filling, grated cheese & oil, and a flat oiled plate or cookie sheet to place the carimañolas once you shape them.
4. Oil your hands a bit and grab about 2 tbs of the mashed yuca, place it in your palm and make a rectangular shaped ball. Push the middle in a bit and add 2 tps of the filling with some cheese on top. With your fingers push the filling in and close back the ball.  If it becomes difficult to seal, you can add extra mashed yuca to close them completely.
5. Keep prepared carimañolas in the fridge until you are ready to fry them. Good news if they didn’t seal so well on your first try, you can still enjoy them: just saute them on butter! (Doesn’t that make everything better?) This way they won’t split open in the middle of frying.  Besides, I just like adding fat to this already fatty deliciousness.


Cilantro-Cheesy Yuca Balls

–  I like to make a double batch of the filling or fry an egg, and serve these carimañolas with a side of fruit and queso fresco for breakfast.
–  If you have leftover boiled yuca, it keeps fora few days in the fridge. Same deal with the carimañolas, many people freeze them and just fry as needed.
–  If you have leftover mashed yuca and don’t feel like making any more carimañolas, just add some cheese and chopped cilantro like I did on that pic with the balls, and fry them also…breading them would work well too… carimañolas schnitzel!!!! OK, I have to chill out now… Just cook with yuca! Deal?!

Rest of the pictures on FB click here 

¡a comer!


  1. Funny you say that, I actually never made carimañolas myself in Panama, always bought from store or from someone’s mom who would make them, but they don’t sell them around here so I gave them a try! Thanks for checking it out Ileana! ♥

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