Brazilian Tapioca (GF, V, AIP)
- 1 lb tapioca starch, sometimes labeled as tapioca flour (Bob’s Red Mill is available most places)
- 1 cup water
- Mesh sieve or strainer
- Non-stick pan
- Large bowl or casserole pan
You know when you go out to a new restaurant or are lucky enough to be at a friend’s house for dinner and get to try a new dish or food completely foreign to your palate. Not some new funky way of making pizza or fresh jazzy little vinaigrette on the dinner salad, but a UFO (unidentified food object) that just blows your mind and leaves you asking where have you been all my life. These treasures don’t come often but when they do the thought of this food consumes every bit of the space between your ears until you figure out where to buy it or how to make it at home. Folks, this week’s recipe is exactly one of those foods for me. It has but one single ingredient but changed the way I looked at flat round bread forever.
It seems just about every culture around the world has its own version of a flatbread. While working at the tortilla factory I naturally got well versed in the Mexican versions. Then I came across a book called Flatbreads and Flavors. I was in love. This book was written by a couple who traveled the world in search of native cuisine flatbreads and the different flavors associated with them. They had Indian roti, Ethiopian injera, Italian focaccia, and on and on. I tried them all and when finished figured I had an exhausting knowledge of the world’s offerings. That was until I stumbled upon one of Brazil’s national dishes. Tapioca.
Out of all the baking I’ve done, and that’s saying a lot, Tapioca has to be one of the most basic recipes and easiest to cook. In Brazil tapioca is mainly served by street vendors, check out this video for a sneak peek. I’ve used tapioca to hold eggs, pulled pork, spicy sausages, fajitas, and sometimes just butter. As always play around with how you use it but follow the recipe to make this crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside South American treat. Tapioca is gluten-free, vegan, and AIP friendly. Let’s cook
- Put all but 1/4 cup tapioca flour in the bowl
- Add water a little at a time while stirring with a fork until it forms into large chunks with some small pieces. If you need to add more water go slow so you don’t take it too far. You have gone too far if the mix solidifies into a hard paste. This is when you add in a little of the reserved flour to dry it up a bit
- Set the sieve or strainer over a bowl or pan and run the tapioca through it to create a loose sandy mixture
- Organize your filling next to your cooking station so everything can be added quickly
- Heat your pan to medium.
- Grab a handful of the mix and sprinkle into the pan until the entire bottom is covered. Cook for about 1 minute or until the edges begin to dry and turn up
- Spread your filling over half of the tapioca then flip the other half over the top like an omelet. Press down a bit with a spatula then turn over and cook for about 30 seconds more.
- Tapiocas have to be eaten right away or they will get dry and tough (not tasty). Leftover mix, however, can be refrigerated in an airtight container or bag for up to a week.