For this Lunes Latino we have a recipe that I can’t believe I just discovered as an adult. It is a recipe that despite being popular in certain areas of the Dominican Republic, where I grew up, I never tried it until a recent trip back home. When I confronted mami asking why she had denied me the pleasure of enjoying this golden treat as a child, she simply replied: “of course mi amor I made it for you, I just made it a bit differently!” … yeah right! Please, don’t be fooled by her sweet motherly words. Let me explain in detail, as I don’t think her version of this treat was “just a bit different”.
These treats I am raving about are called arañitas de yuca, which literally translate to yuca little spiders. They are called that way, as the strings of the grated yuca get fried on a free form and the result is a small yuca fritter, oval and/or round in shape with strings coming out resembling little spider legs. By grating the yuca on the thickest side of the grater you get a crispier, less doughy fritter, and this is what my mom held back from me (sorry for the drama, but I was so mad). What my mom cooked for us growing up, is called arepitas de yuca and they are a fritter that is cooked with the exact same ingredients and follow almost the exact same process as the little spiders fritters, except that the yuca is grated with the smallest side of the grater. This small difference in the cooking process, makes for a more cakey center with no room for the crispy arañita legs which are the highlight of this treat and to me, makes for a big difference in texture and eating experience.
Now that you know there are two ways of grating and frying yuca let me also bring a new variance to the mix. You can make arañitas of plantain too. Yes, this is also completely new to me, which makes me wonder what type of expert am I, certainly doubting myself now as I have never had arañitas made of plantains either. Apparently they are very popular in Puerto Rico. My blogger friend Madelyn from Karma Free Cooking shares her take on Plantain Little Spiders. Check out her recipe and blog as the arañitas are made with almost no oil, something I should definitely try too.
Even though I was deprived of having this as a little girl, I won’t hold the recipe from you, instead I very much encourage you to try this recipe.
You start by peeling the yuca and grating it using the thickest side of the grater.
Add eggs, salt a pinch of sugar and anise seeds and mix well.
With a spoon drop freely small portions in very hot oil.
You can have it as a side dish to add crunch to a meal or as a snack treat like I did here dipped in a cilantro mayo sauce.
Unlike my mom (which, joking aside, I adore) I did introduce the arañitas to my daughter “Little L” and she loved them.
1 pound yuca
½ tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon anise seed
Grate the yuca on the thickest side of the grater (see images above)
Mix the grated yuca with all other ingredients.
Using a spoon drop about 2 inch wide and ½ inch thick portions of the mix in very hot oil (see images above)
Once it starts getting golden, turn so that the other side gets cooked and crispy as well.
Remove and let the yuca fritters rest on a paper towel before serving so that the excess oil is drained.