Thursday, June 23, 2011

RECIPE - Tapioca with Guava Paste (Tapioca com Goiabada)

This recipe, which comes from Ceará in northeastern Brazil, is a good example of what a nordestino (someone from the northeast) means when they refer to tapioca. As detailed in the preceding post on Flavors of Brazil tapioca is one of those words that carries a number of meanings - a culinary counterpart to what are referred to as false cognates in the world of linguistics.

In Ceará and neighboring states tapioca means a round griddle cake made from manioc/cassava starch and which is rolled or folded over to contain some sort of filling. In this recipe after the tapioca is cooked a layer of guava paste (goiabada) is spread over it, it is rolled and briefly dipped in coconut milk, and then it is served decorated with thinned guava paste and mint leaves.

To make this recipe successfully outside Brazil, you will probably need to visit a Latin American market for a few ingredients. The essential ingredient, obviously, is the manioc starch itself. In Brazil it is sold in supermarkets under the name goma de tapioca if it is fresh, and fecula de mandioca if it is fully dry and needs to be reconstituted with water before using.This dry product can be found in markets which cater to Caribbean, Central American or Brazilian immigrant communities, and in North America it is almost always labeled in three language - as cassava starch in English, amido de yuca in Spanish and fecula de mandioca in Portuguese. The other ingredient you'll need from a Latin market is the guava paste, which is also labeled trilingually - guava paste in English, guayabada in Spanish and goiabada in Portuguese.
RECIPE - Tapioca with Guava Paste (Tapioca com Goiabada)
makes 1 crepe

1/2 cup dried cassava starch/fecula de mandioca
1 cup water
1 pinch of salt
1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup of finely diced guava paste
1/4 cup coconut milk
mint leaves to decorate (optional)

In a small mixing bowl place the 1/4 cup guava paste and then begin to mash it with a wooden spoon, adding hot water about 1/2 tsp at a time. Continue to mash and add water sparingly until you have a smooth paste that is just liquid enough to pour from a spoon or squirt from a pastry tube.

In another mixing bowl, medium size add the dried cassava starch. Add up to one cup water, only a bit at a time and mixing in totally before adding more water until you reach the texture of small peas, each one separate. Do not over-add water to make a dough. Over a baking sheet, push the starch through a sieve. Let dry on the sheet. You should now have little balls of starch that you are ble to scatter individually.

Heat a dry non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Sprinkle the moistened starch over the bottom of the hot pan, making sure it covers the entire bottom. It should be less than 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick over the entire surface. Let cook for a few minutes or until the starch adheres to inself to make a crepe and it becomes dry and just begins to brown on the bottom side. Using a spatula as an aid, turn the crepe over and cook for just a minute or two. Remove from the heat and using the spatula move the crepe to a large dinner plate.

Spread the surface of the crepe with the 1/2 cup finely diced guava paste, and then roll the crepe loosely around the guava paste. Pour the coconut milk onto another plate and roll the crepe briedly in it.

Finally, place the rolled crepe in the middle of a dessert plate, decorate with liquified guava paste and a mint leaf and serve.

Recipe translated and adapted from Cozinha Regional Brasileira by Abril Editora.


  1. A goma, nos EUA, e a mesma que o polvilho usado em pao de queijo? Por exemplo, da marca Yoki Polvilho Azedo or Polvilho Doce?

  2. It's amido de yuca in Portuguese and fecula de mandioca in Spanish :)

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