Let’s face it: Pressure Cookers are incredibly intimidating! Nearly all of us cooks can recount a story of our own or someone we know where the thing blew. But, you can’t deny that they are the ticket to maximizing time efficiency and minimizing the use of gas or electricity to cook. Pressure cookers allow people to prepare dishes that traditionally take hours to make in a fraction of the time.
I learned this in 2015 when I traveled to Cuba for the first time. I was coming off the heels of producing my first illustrated cookbook, Comida Latina, a personal narrative of cooking with people in their homes all over Latin America, and now I intended to craft a similar experience just with a much more specific lens: Cuba.
…I have a wide breadth of stories and knowledge to share… but for this inaugural recipe for Startup Cuba, I’m focusing on just one facet of Cuban cooking…
I embarked on a series of trips, experiences that felt like cultural deep dives, to learn about the island’s people and culture through food, journaling all the way. It was this sketchbook style, along with its contents, that were the inspiration and ground work to my Illustrated Cookbook, Comida Cubana, A Cuban Culinary Journey.
Having researched Cuban cuisine extensively, I have a wide breadth of stories and knowledge to share through stories and illustration, but for this inaugural recipe for Startup Cuba, I’m focusing on just one facet of Cuban cooking – while sharing one what I hope will be the jumping off point for some storytelling of your own with your community, and even on this platform.
Historian Peter Kornbluh pens this picture of the U.S. Embargo on Cuba, for Startup Cuba, now in its sixtieth year.
Here’s an essential Cuban simple dish that can be made using the pressure cooker, yuca con mojo.
Yuca is a vianda. In Spanish this means a starch. Viandas can be root vegetables or fruits.
Recipe: Yuca con Mojo (Cassava with Citrus Dressing)
- 2 lb (900g) yuca
- ¼ cup (60 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 red onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 pinch dried oregano
- Peel and wash the yuca. As you work, place the yuca in a bowl of cold water to keep from discoloring. Quarter the yuca lengthwise and cut into 4-inch (10-cm) pieces. Cut out the stringy core if necessary.
- Place the yuca in a pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Cook until soft but not falling apart, about 30 mins. If using a pressure cooker, bring it up to pressure and cook with 2 inches (5 cm) of water for 6-8 mins, followed by a quick release of the pressure valve according to manufacturer’s instructions. Drain well.
- Heat the oil in a skillet over low heat. Saute the onions until soft, 5-6 minus. Add the garlic and cook until softened but browned, 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool.
- Stir the lime juice, salt, and oregano into the onion mixture. (I usually shake everything together in a mason jar). Pour over the yuca. Serve warm.