Cassava tastes good if it doesn’t kill you
There are days I cook dangerously, and days I cook dangerously. Today was the latter. I picked up some of this:
Cassava. If you’re from most parts of the world, you already recognize it – it grows well in harsh conditions, so it’s an important food source for struggling farmers in Central and South America, Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. The rest of the world might be more familiar with the starch extracted from it, which becomes tapioca.
Cassava is kind of Dr. Atkins’ nemesis. It’s highly carby. And to get back to my dangerous teaser intro, it can also be toxic – it contains cyanide, so you should never feed it to people straight up. Unless, of course, you don’t like them. Then feel free to go to town, and pretend you never read this post. This is starting to sound like a Murder She Wrote episode. The Case of the Killer Cassava…
I liked the family I planned to feed the cassava to (mine) so I did lots of research to make sure it wouldn’t kill them. I was drawn to a Filipino cake recipe that seemed popular, but in every recipe I found for it, they used frozen, grated cassava rather than the fresh bulbous one I had already bought. If I grated my own and baked it, would it be hot enough to burn off the poisons? Lalaine at KawalingPinoy.com assured me that the milk in the recipe would be hot enough. And that is my story and I’m sticking to it, Angela Lansbury.
My next problem was that the recipe contained something called, “macapuno strings.” I’m sure most people would think, “well, forget it then, WTH is that?” Of course I am not most cooks – I saw that and thought, “Score, two dangerous foods in one recipe!” Here’s a picture of the dangerous stuff.
Let’s CSI that bad boy though, and check out the fine print that made me even more happy:
That’s right. Macapuno strings come from “mutant coconuts.” Awesome. How many of you have eaten a mutant coconut?
“Mutuant coconuts with a cyanide garnish, please.” You’re jealous, no? I knew that my favourite ethnic food store T&T would have mutant coconuts, but I wasn’t into driving all the way downtown. I Googled “Filipino food store,” and found this beauty in my neighbourhood.
(I live in the gentrified part of the neighbourhood).
I wish I had taken a picture of Bernard, because he was about 90 years old and very excited to have a new customer. He happily sold me the mutant coconut and even upsold me a squishy rice purple yam thingy in a banana leaf.
How often do you guys eat something and think to yourself, “Wow, if this puts me in hospital, Dr. House’s team is really going to have a hard time figuring out what I ate, because I’m not even sure.” I think that thought about once a month.
Anyway, I excitedly rushed home and made a halfsies version of Lalaine’s mutant coconut cyanide custard cake. Here is the recipe as she wrote it, with a few tweaks below, mostly related to amounts and lack of frozen cassava:
Cassava cake with custard topping
- 3 cups peeled, grated cassava (I recommend using the grater attachment for your food processor)
- 1 can coconut milk (14oz or 400mL)
- 1 can sweetened condensed milk (300mL)
- 3/4 bottle macapuno strings (full jar is 12oz or 340g)
- 1/4C sugar
- 1Tbsp butter
For the topping (recipe below makes too much, but it’s all good)
- another can of sweetened condensed milk
- 1 can evaporated milk (370mL)
- 4 egg yolks
Directions: Grease your pan. Mine was 8.5 x 11 inch. Preheat to 375. In a medium bowl, mix all cake ingredients (except butter, which was used to grease the pan).
Pour mixture into pan until it’s 3/4 full and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick comes away clean. Remove from oven and pour custard over cake. Continue to bake until topping firms slightly and begins to brown – for me, this was about another 20 minutes. Allow to cool and slice into large squares.
My husband hasn’t tasted this yet, but I predict he’s going to love it as much as I do, even though he doesn’t have a sweet tooth. This cake tastes like a hash brown custard. Intrigued? Give it a go. Rating: 3 Yums The perfect drink accompaniment might be an antidote. I’ll let you know. Or I won’t.