Enyucado

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Today’s blog takes us on a culinary journey to the coastal region of Colombia, South America.  Enyucado is a dessert that is somewhat hard to describe.  A bite of this rich dessert leads to the flavors of coconut and anise while the texture resembles a cross between egg custard and bread pudding.

I stumbled across a great recipe for Enyucado while searching for Ecuadorian desserts.  My wife never heard of Enyucado but she was familiar with the ingredients.  As I found out, making Enyucado is a labor of love, but if you are a fan of anise, it is worth the effort.

Getting the ingredients for this dessert was not as easy as it might seem.  The coconut I picked up at the local supermarket looked fine on the outside but it was rotten on the inside.  Finding fresh yuca  is also not as easy as it seems.  Yuca is typically coated in wax, so it can look fresh on the outside but can have dark spots or streaks on the inside.  I have also found fresh yuca which is too old; it contains large fibrous strands that are inedible.  The trick is to break off a piece of the yuca and look for completely white flesh free of dark brown spots or streaks.  Luckily, there are at least two Latin produce markets within 8 miles of my house, so I was eventually able to find fresh yuca, a good coconut and some good queso blanco.

Making the Enyucado begins by cracking and grating some coconut.  Sure, you could use some bagged frozen grated coconut and possibly even the shelf stable grated coconut.  But why?  If you are taking the time to grate fresh yuca then take the time to grate fresh coconut too.  You’ll appreciate the difference in taste.  After cracking, separating out the shell and cleaning the coconut, it took me about half  of one coconut’s meat to produce ¾ cup of grated coconut.  I grated the coconut on the medium grating side of my KitchenAid box grater.

For the yuca, I peeled and grated it using the fine grating surface.  It took about 3 yuca roots to make the 3 cups of grated yuca.  You have to be sure to not grate the very center of the yuca too…it is tough and fibrous.

As an aside, it is probably a good time to discuss concerns about yuca.  You’ve no doubt heard that yuca in its raw form contains two cyanogenic glucosides, linamarin and lotaustralin.  Through the natural enzyme in yuca, these compounds are broken into hydrogen cyanide in your body, which can lead to acute cyanide poisoning.  Yes, you read right…cyanide….the stuff that has been used to kill condemned prisoners.  But don’t worry!  The dangerous toxins present in yuca dissipate when the yuca is cooked.  This will probably scare most people away from ever trying yuca, but all you need to do is properly cook it and don’t eat it raw.  Seriously, it is not a big deal!  This dessert cooks for almost 1 hour at 400F.  That is sufficient time for the latent toxins to dissipate.

Once the yuca and coconut are grated, grate the queso fresco.  Grate it on the medium side as well.  It takes about ¾ of a wheel of queso fresco to get 1 ½ cups of grated fresh queso fresco blanco.

The rest is easy – dump the grated stuff into a large bowl, add the sugar, melted butter, coconut milk and however much anise you like.  I personally like a hint of anise versus a heaping helping.  Then dump it in a buttered baking dish.   ow bake it all in a 400F oven for 50+ minutes or until it is nicely browned.

You end up with something like this…

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