Yucca root (or yellow yam) is a strange ingredient. It’s got some properties of a potato, some of a squash, and it looks a little freaky. It’s got a rough brown exterior and it’s covered in wax, which is to preserve the moisture in the vegetable. Once all that nasty outside skin is cut off, you’re left with a white, yam-shaped vegetable which can be boiled, roasted or grilled. I chose to boil mine since it was my first time ever using it, and it turned out soft and yummy.
Frying rice paper wrappers works really well for several reasons. It adds a nice crunch to an otherwise soft dish, it’s easy, but most of all it seals the ingredients into the rolls really well. I was afraid that some of the rolls were going to fall apart because of the fragile nature of the wrappers, but the hot oil seals it making it hard for any of the filling to escape.
My boyfriend and I came up with this recipe and neither of us would change a thing about it. The mix of garlicky mushrooms, yucca, spicy tofu and fresh greens all rolled up and fried couldn’t have pleased me more. I dipped these in rice vinegar which is really strong but works well with the flavours in the rolls.
Makes roughly 15 wraps
- 1 small yucca root (yellow yam)**cooking directions below
- 2 tsp. vegetable oil, plus oil for frying
- 113g shiitake mushrooms (roughly 9-10 mushrooms), washed, stems removed and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (350g) package of extra firm tofu, drained and shredded
- 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
- 15 rice paper wrappers (plus extra for mistakes, they happen)
- 1 cup fresh coriander, chopped
- 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced into rings
- 1 cup fresh spinach
How to cook yucca root: Remove all of the waxy, brown exterior with a sharp knife. Discard the skin, and cut the yucca into “wedges” about 1-2 inches thick. Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. Carefully add yucca slices to the boiling water, cover, and cook on high for 20-25 minutes. The yucca should be clear around the edges and easily piercable with a fork. Strain and allow to cool. Slice the yucca into very thin strips and set aside.
Heat 1 tsp. of oil on a skillet on medium-high heat. Add shiitake mushrooms and allow to cook 3-4 minutes until slightly shrunken. Add garlic and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes until garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.
In the same frying pan, add the other teaspoon of vegetable oil and the shredded tofu. Cook until lightly browned then add soy sauce and the chili garlic sauce. Stir, letting the sauce seep into the tofu, and remove from heat. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with very hot water (I boiled the kettle, poured, then waited a few minutes). Carefully submerge one rice paper wrap into the hot water and allow to sit for 30 seconds until completely softened and malleable. Remove with tongs (careful not to rip the paper) and set it on a flat, dry surface. Place a couple of mushroom slices, yucca strips and about a 1/2 tsp. of tofu in the centre of the wrap. Then sprinkle on a pinch of each coriander and scallions, and add 1-2 spinach leaves.
To fold the wraps (photos below), take the top of the rice paper and fold it towards the centre until it covers the middle ingredients. Then pull the bottom up towards the centre until it’s touching the edge of the top of the wrapper. Taking the right side of the paper, fold it in towards the ingredients. Tightly fold the centre of the wrap over to the left so that the ingredients are completely enclosed. Repeat with remaining wraps and ingredients.
Once all of the ingredients have been used up in wraps, heat enough oil in frying pan so that it covers the whole surface. Add 4-5 wraps at a time, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, turning so that all sides are lightly golden and the texture has changed. Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to drain excess oil. Repeat with remaning rolls and serve hot with rice vinegar or hot sauce. Enjoy!