Zonzo is prepared two different ways in Bolivia, either oven baked or open-grilled, and is typical to Eastern Bolivia, especially the department of Santa Cruz. Back when electricity didn't exist zonzo was wrapped around a stick and grilled outdoors. Those who baked their zonzo usually did so in an outdoor clay oven, using a clay baking dish. Today it's possible to make zonzo easily in your electric or gas oven, although there's nothing quite delicious as zonzo from the grill.
4 pounds of yuca (aka cassava or manioc) peeled, boiled and mashed
2 round white
cheeses, crumbled (fresh mozzarella works well)
2 tablespoons of
butter or lard, melted
¼ to ½ cup of milk
Peel the yuca, cut into medium-sized
pieces, and boil in water with salt until they are soft. Remove from water and strain. Mash completely.
in the eggs and melted butter or lard and mix well. Add in ¼ cup of milk and mix completely. What you want to obtain is a mash of yucca that can be handled and shaped with your hands - not too dry to crumble and not so wet that it won't hold its shape. If the mix is too dry, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time.
Add in the crumbled cheese.
Mexican 'queso cacique' works well (you'll have to grate it), but I found that fresh mozzarella (the kind that comes in a jar with water) works better for this recipe. Mix vigorously with a wooden spoon or simply with your hands to incorporate the cheese completely into the mashed yuca.
To Bake It
If you plan to make baked zonzo, your mashed yuca can
be a bit wetter if you like (however, don't make it runny). Grease a glass baking dish and spread the mashed yuca into the dish. Try to use a dish that isn't too shallow. You want your zonzo to be rather deep and have the consistency of mashed potatoes. If it's too shallow, you may end up baking your zonzo into a thin crisp. Bake at 350 Fahrenheit - or about 180 Celsius - uncovered until the cheese forms a nice toasty golden brown top. Serve hot.
To Grill It
To grill your zonzo on a
stick, your mashed yuca should not be too wet. You need it to be pliable and smooth. Scoop some zonzo with your hand and shape it around your stick. You can either grill it directly on the grill, or wrap it in tin foil initially, then after a few minutes you can take off the tin foil and grill it until the cheese toasts to a golden brown. Be sure to turn it around every once in a while so it bakes on all sides.
To learn more about Bolivia and Bolivian food, visit my website http://www.boliviabella.com/recipes.html
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Other posts by Bella:
Empanadas de Queso