We enjoyed those nice cassava crackers I wrote about here so much, I regretted not buying more than one pack of 50 sheets. Not sure if they can be found anywhere in Manila, so with time on my hands, and searing heat outdoors, of course I decided to try and see just how hard these would be to make at home. Without any experience, recipe, or literally clue on how to do them. One of the commenters in my previous post on cabcab said her mother finely grated the cassava, pressed them onto banana leaves and blanched them before drying… We didn’t have any banana leaves handy but we decided to experiment with two approaches…
Armed with fresh cassava at just PHP25 a kilo or so from the Nasugbu market, I figured a total failure would be another learning experience, and it wouldn’t cost me that much no matter what. We took two medium sized pieces of cassava and peeled and grated them. Another two medium sized pieces were boiled for about 10 minutes until parboiled, but still a little firm at the center.
The grated cassava was put into boiling water for roughly 1.5 minutes, which was simply WAY TOO LONG and we had this gloopy gluey mess draining in a colander. I think 15-25 seconds would have been about right.
The parboiled cassava was cut into chunks, and placed in a food processor and whizzed with some hot water and salt. This resulted in a thick gloppy paste of sorts. In retrospect, perhaps I should have used a food mill instead for a less sticky, more consistent grind.
Both types of goop were spread onto silpat mats and dried outdoors for just 5-6 hours in the cloudless sky with 94F temperatures and a light breeze…
…the gloopier grated and then boiled wafers took a little longer to dry and actually turned out thinner than paper in parts… so the water content was high and we should have spread them a little thicker.
The food-processor mashed version had bigger bits of cassava and were thicker, but seemed to dry a bit faster, owing to a lower water content I think. It was amazing to see them dry up and start to curl at the edges (can you tell we weren’t doing much in the days of Lent), and VOILA! homemade cassava wafers that were rustic in feel, uneven but clearly promising…
We fried several of the homemade wafers in oil (too hot) and some of the crackers browned a little too fast. But they tasted terrific nonetheless. I like the way the “meatier” wafers with bits of cassava cooked up slightly unevenly and where thicker than the commercial ones I bought in Bohol. They had character, crunch and loads of subtle cassava flavor. I tossed some cold leftover dulong in olive oil on them and it was a FANTASTIC snack. FANTASTIC. And the cost? Without labor and equipment, about 50 centavos each. Plus here’s a bonus, based on a reader’s tip in the previous cab cab post, you can microwave these wafers for just 10 seconds or so and you get an unbelievably healthy, oil-free crisp snack. Who would have thought?
P.S. The cracker in the last photo above reminded me of emping, that Indonesian cracker made from gnetum gnome seeds that are slightly bitter. Now I just have to perfect how to fry them without giving them too much color.
P.P.S. To make these in bulk, I suspect forming the disks of cassava puree on cache or cloth and putting that out in the sun to dry would work well too. This is similar to how they make rice paper wrappers in Vietnam, where they put a slurry of rice, water and salt onto a piece of cloth that it steamed from below, then the steamed rice wafer is dried in the sun.