Carimañolas, a culinary delight that has transcended borders and conquered palates around the world, are the perfect example of how gastronomy can be both a sensory experience and a cultural journey. Originating from the Caribbean coast of Colombia and Panama, these exquisite and crunchy yucca empanadas stuffed with meat, chicken or cheese, have established themselves as one of the gastronomic jewels of Latin America, and for good reason.
Imagine taking a bite into a freshly fried Carimañola, feeling its golden and crunchy exterior give way to a soft and creamy yucca interior that envelops a delicious and well-seasoned filling. The taste of Carimañolas is a unique experience that awakens the senses and transports us to the warm and vibrant Caribbean culture.
But Carimañolas are not only a delight for our palate, they are also an opportunity to explore the rich culinary traditions and shared history among brotherly countries, which have managed to merge their indigenous, African, and European influences to create a unique and emblematic dish. By trying a Carimañola, you are not only immersing yourself in a world of flavor and textures, but you are also celebrating the diversity and cultural richness of our region.
Carimañolas are mainly consumed in the departments of Córdoba and Atlántico, they are served for breakfast accompanied by cheese or coastal whey and it is quite traditional to find them in cafeterias or fast food stalls. In other regions of the country such as Santander, in the coffee zone or the Cauca Valley, they can also be found, however, there they are known as yucca empanadas.
This fried food is very similar to the typical empanada, but its wrapping changes as a yucca (cassava) puree is used to prepare its dough, which is prepared by cooking it in plenty of water until it is soft and then grinding or mashing it. As for its filling, very coastal ingredients such as cheese are used, or others such as shredded chicken, seasoned ground beef, or vegetables, all depending on the person's taste or the area in which they are prepared.
As mentioned above, the recipe is prepared with a yucca (cassava or cassava) dough. This is a hard-skinned root or tuber of brown color, its interior is white and has a lot of starch and carbohydrates.
It is used as a thickener in many preparations or as an essential ingredient in sancochos, sudados, soups, arepas or tortillas. It is highly recommended to consume cooked, roasted yucca or after a drying process, as if it is eaten raw or prepared incorrectly it can be harmful to the organism, since it contains harmful toxins that concentrate in its shell. That's why in addition to the previous recommendations, it is important to completely remove the shell.
Finally, it is very important to serve the Carimañola with a good side dish, which could be a rich ají, a homemade tomato and chili sauce, or the unfailing coastal whey. Which is prepared with fermented milk and provides a very pleasant flavor to any dish.
What is the key to achieving a perfect yucca dough?
To achieve a perfect yucca dough in the preparation of Carimañolas, it is important to cook it until it is soft, but not too much so that it does not fall apart. When crushing it, make sure you get a smooth and uniform texture. Knead it enough to achieve a soft and manageable texture, which will facilitate the formation of the Carimañolas.
How can I avoid them opening when frying?
Make sure to seal the Carimañolas well when closing them, shaping them into an oval and pressing the edges carefully. Do not overfill them, as this could cause them to open during frying. Also, it is important that the oil is very hot before frying the Carimañolas, as this helps to seal them and prevent them from opening.
Can I use another type of meat instead of ground beef?
Yes, you can substitute the ground beef for pork, chicken or even shredded fish, depending on your preferences and ingredient availability. Make sure to adjust the cooking time according to the type of meat you choose so that it is well cooked.
What is the best way to serve Carimañolas?
Carimañolas are best served hot, straight out of the oil and drained on kitchen paper to remove excess fat. You can accompany them with tomato sauce, sweet chili or coastal whey to enhance their flavor and enjoy an authentically Colombian gastronomic experience.
Can I prepare this recipe in advance?
Yes, you can prepare it in advance and store them in the refrigerator before frying. It is advisable to cover them with cling film or a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out. When frying, make sure they are at room temperature so that they cook evenly.
Tips and tricks
To give a special touch to the filling, you can add chopped olives, capers or chopped hard-boiled egg.
Make sure to chop the vegetables finely so that they blend well with the meat and do not make it difficult to close the Carimañolas.
Fresh yucca is ideal for this recipe, but you can also use frozen yucca if you can't find fresh. Make sure to defrost it well before cooking it.
Not cooking the yucca long enough, which makes it difficult to handle and makes the dough hard.
Using cold oil or not hot enough when frying, which makes the Carimañolas absorb more fat and not become crispy.
- 1000 g of peeled yucca (cut into pieces and without veins.)
- 6 cups of water
- Enough vegetable oil for frying
- For the filling
- ¼ of a finely chopped bell pepper
- 1 crushed garlic clove
- ½ finely chopped onion
- 250 g of ground beef
- 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
- Salt (pepper, and cumin to taste)
- Although traditionally the carimañola is fried, you can also bake it for about 30 minutes at 190°C.
- Place a large pot over high heat, add the water, yucca, and salt. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the yucca is soft.
- Drain the yucca and in a bowl start mashing it with a fork or a puree masher, knead it quite a bit until it has a smooth texture, set the dough aside.
- Put a frying pan over medium heat and add the tablespoon of oil, the crushed garlic, the onion, and the bell pepper. Cook for two minutes stirring constantly.
- Add the ground beef and cook for 7 minutes without stopping stirring, so that the ingredients are integrated. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Take the yucca dough and make a fist-sized ball, with the help of a finger make a hole in the center (like making a canoe).
- Add 1 tablespoon of beef filling and gently close it forming an oval.
- Bring each carimañola to a pan with hot oil and fry for about 3 minutes on each side or until they are golden.
- Remove each carimañola and drain on kitchen paper.
- Serve and eat them hot, accompanied by tomato sauce, sweet chili, or costeño sour cream.