America is behind the remainder of the world in the case of loving chewy meals, in keeping with Justin Sullivan, assistant meals editor at Delish. The truth is, he lately wrote an entire article devoted to this underrated food texture, or because the Taiwanese name it, “Q.”

“It’s an unbelievably versatile ingredient I don’t suppose we use a lot—and we should always,” he mentioned.

He is proper: There aren’t a number of American meals that remember chewiness in the identical manner we swoon over all issues crunchy or creamy… however the remainder of the world does. Suppose boba tea, the Brazilian cheese bread pão de queijo, and tapioca pudding. What do these all have in widespread? They put tapioca within the highlight.

Intrigued? Let’s speak about it and how one can be utilizing it in your kitchen.

What Is Tapioca?

Tapioca comes from cassava. Naturally gluten-free starch is extracted from the plant, which is then become a powder or exhausting pearls. Each are usually white in shade, however flip translucent when hydrated.

“[Cassava] is a staple crop all through the world,” Sullivan mentioned. “It is from Brazil natively, but it surely’s used very closely in Western Africa, in a number of Asia, and the Indian subcontinent.”

Wait. What’s Cassava?

Cassava, additionally known as yuca, is an extended tuberous root vegetable. Much like a potato, it may be cooked and eaten in a lot the identical method. The root is mostly peeled, grated, soaked in water, kneaded, strained, sifted, and dried to turn out to be tapioca starch or flour.

“It’s extremely starchy and a fantastic taste absorber,” Sullivan mentioned. “I’d describe it as a bit extra fibrous [than a potato] with a reasonably gentle taste.”

What Does It Style Like?

Tapioca has a gentle taste that does not style like a lot in any respect. Then once more, its enchantment is not actually in its taste. It is all concerning the chewy texture it delivers, and tapioca’s capacity to tackle the flavour of different elements.

How Can I Use Tapioca Starch?

You’ll discover tapioca starch within the specialty flour part of your grocery retailer. (It may be known as tapioca flour or starch, however they’re the identical factor.) Like all starch, it is helpful as a thickener for soups, stews, and braises. Simply make sure that to combine it properly with equal elements water to stop clumping earlier than including the stuff to any dish. You can too use it to coat meat or veggies earlier than deep frying, which supplies them an excellent crispy coating. However to essentially make the most of the ingredient, it’s important to take a stroll on the chewy facet.

“However the main factor that separates tapioca starch from issues like candy potato starch or cornstarch is the extent of chew that it offers,” Sullivan mentioned, pointing to the Brazilian cheese bread, pão de queijo. “It is an unbelievably gentle, barely chewy bread. You might by no means actually obtain that texture with wheat flour.”

(F.Y.I., our recipe for pão de queijo makes use of cassava flour, which is similar to tapioca flour, it simply makes use of the entire root as an alternative of simply the starch. To substitute, use tapioca flour as a one-to-one alternative.)

How Do I Use Tapioca Pearls?

Tapioca pudding is traditionally the most typical tapioca dish within the U.S. It’s made utilizing tapioca pearls, that are small, white balls with no taste which can be used principally in candy recipes. They swim in a candy, custardy pudding made with milk, eggs, and sugar.

Greater pearls are the star of boba tea, or bubble tea. The balls of tapioca are the “bubbles,” get it?

“These are normally cooked in sugar syrup, which is why they’re brown or black,” Sullivan mentioned. “[Boba tea uses] tapioca as the bottom to create the chew after which sugar, fruit, and totally different flavorings make the boba style like one thing.”

Prepared so as to add tapioca to your arsenal of pantry staples? Sullivan is satisfied you will fall in love with “Q”—or chewiness—very quickly.

“Of us within the West are introduced as much as suppose {that a} chewy texture means both sweet or gum, or worse, overcooked meat,” he mentioned. It is time to rethink issues. “The remainder of the globe can’t get sufficient of it, and neither ought to we.”

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