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Cassava: The Root Vegetable in South American & Asian Cooking

by Joost Nusselder | Updated:  October 19, 2022

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Cassava or Manihot esculenta is also known as Brazilian arrowroot, and manioc.

It’s a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates.

What is cassava
Is cassava and yuca the same thing?

Though it is sometimes called yuca in Spanish, it differs from the yucca, an unrelated fruit-bearing shrub in the Asparagaceae family.

Cassava, when dried to a powdery (or pearly) extract, is called tapioca; its fermented, flaky version is named garri.

Cassava is the third largest source of food carbohydrates in the tropics, after rice and maize.

It is one of the most drought-tolerant crops, capable of growing on marginal soils. Nigeria is the world’s largest producer of cassava, while Thailand is the largest exporter of dried cassava.

Cassava is classified as sweet or bitter. Farmers often prefer the bitter varieties because they deter pests, animals, and thieves.

Is cassava poisonous when eaten raw?

You must cook cassava because improper preparation can leave enough residual cyanide to cause acute cyanide intoxication and goiters and may even cause ataxia or partial paralysis.

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What is yellow cassava?

Yellow cassava is native to Brazil and is commonly used in Latin American cuisine. Yellow cassava has a nutty flavor and is often used in soups, stews, and casseroles. It can also be fried or baked.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.