Ask Chef Yadira

Question from Alya, North Carolina

When I fry carimanolas, they tend to break-up or pop and I am not sure why?

Answer:

Carimanolas tend to have a mind of their own. Below are a few tips to make sure of, when prepping and while frying them:

  1. Do not overcook the yuca. If you boil too long, it will make the dough too soft and will not withstand the heat from the oil while frying
  2. After shaping the carimañolas, place in the freezer/refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes to set, before frying
  3. The oil must be heated to 350°F. Any hotter can cause the carimañolas to expand too rapidly and burst open
  4. Do not overcrowd the pan. It will cause the temperature to lower, causing soggy carimañolas that could possibly burst open. Remember to allow the oil to come back up to temp before adding your next batch
  5. Do not over fry carimañ One to two minutes per side should suffice. If left in the fryer for too long, the filling will get too hot, expand, and cause them to split open. To prevent this, only fry for three to four minutes max — just enough time for the outside to crisp and the filling to heat through (remember, both the yuca and the filling were cooked before assembling)
  6. Make sure your carimañolas are dry enough before frying. Meaning, be careful with thawing. Yuca is very porous and will retain the water from the ice when melted (i.e., thawed). If your carimañolas are too wet, they will produce steam when frying, causing them to burst Personally, I fry all frituras from frozen!

Question from Paul, DC

What can I do to prevent crying when cutting onions?

Answer:

I have found that placing onions in the freezer for an hour before cutting really works for me and avoids tears.  However, someone told me that placing a matches between their teeth also works (I have not tried this personally). Another trick is placing a piece of bread between my front teeth with my mouth slightly open; this works because the spongy texture of the bread absorbed some of those noxious gases before they have the chance to float up to your nose and eyes

Question from JH, Minnesota

I always have a hard time when peeling green plantain. Is there an easy way to peel it?

Answer:

Cut off both ends and place plantain in a pot of boiling water for about 8 minutes. Remove with tongs. Let cool for a few seconds and skin should peel off easily

Question from P., Georgia

Isn't the Chicheme Frio and the hot Chicheme one in the same, just that one is cold and the other is hot?

Answer:

Although both the cold and hot Chicheme contain the same exact ingredients, they do not just differ by temperature. Their preparation method is unique, resulting in two different products - one is a cold and light drink, and the other is a hot and thick porridge. The only preparation step that they have in common is that both require to first cook/boil the hominy corn (maiz trillado) for 1-1/2 hours. Once the corn is cooked, the preparation method changes for each one: the cold Chicheme is finished in a blender vs. the hot Chicheme is finished on the stove in the same pot where the corn was cooked.