I did some quick research to see if this was a recipe that the limited dieters among us could consume, and I’m not totally sure. Pan de yuca (pronounced yoo-ka) is a really common, delicious bread here in Ecuador- it’s made with yuca starch, grated fresh cheese, and an egg. Yuca (also called cassava, manioc, or tapioca) starch appears to be paleo (sorry Nuna, I didn’t do any keto research), although most places mention that yuca doesn’t have any particular nutritional value, so it should be consumed in moderation. A brief google search for “is fresh cheese paleo” brought up a bunch of different results, mostly of people saying “it’s up to you”. And I know eggs are paleo! So Sarah, this could possibly be a recipe you could make, depending on your paleo choices. And it’s bread, so obviously I know that Rach will love it.
I’m not sure where you can find almidón de yuca (tapioca starch)- my guess is probably at any Latin specialty store, and definitely online. It’s obviously non-perishable, so I might try to bring some back with me in August too! I just use the recipe on the bag of starch that I buy here- it’s basically 500 g of yuca starch and 500 g of grated queso fresco. I don’t usually use that much cheese, and a fresh mozzarella would make a good substitute for queso fresco. My go-to for Ecua-food recipes, Laylita Pujol (www.laylita.com) includes a entire stick of butter in her recipe, but my bag of starch just calls for one egg and enough milk to moisten up the dough. Yuca starch is a lot like corn starch- it’s hard if you punch it fast, but if you’re “delicate” with the dough, it “liquifies”. So slowly, carefully add milk to the grated cheese/egg/starch mixture- you want to make sure that when you form the balls that will become the yuca bread, that they won’t spread apart when you put them on your baking sheet. I probably used about 1/4 cup of milk, but use a bit less at first. The recipe is pretty forgiving, so just remember a 1:1 starch: cheese ratio plus a beaten egg and some milk, and remember that you can use a bit less cheese if you want.
Then shape the dough into small balls, and place in your oven at high heat (my gas oven doesn’t have a thermometer, I’d guess about 400 F) for 10-15 minutes until they’re cooked- you’ll see flecks of browned cheese. The breads are chewy (tapioca starch…)- that’s their glory! So don’t worry if they seem a little chewy (see photo above). I cooked mine on my silpat and they slid off no problem- I love the silpat! Serve these little guys at your next dinner party, brunch, or evening soiree as an appetizer. To add to your cultural capital, feel free to say that your “Ecuadorian friend” taught you the recipe. (These are also called pao de queijo in Brazil and are somewhat common in Argentina and Colombia as well, so you can improvise with the nationality of your international friend.)
Let me know if you find tapioca starch, and what you think!