About a week ago, I had a friend ask questions about Bubble Tea (A “Smoothie-esc” soft drink with saturated Tapioca Pearls to create a witty contrast in the beverages texture, quite often tea flavored). Unfortunately, this Article has very little (actually nothing) to do with Bubble Tea. However, it started with an interaction between two friends in which I received a large Ziploc bag full of Tapioca Pearls with a label instructing me to “Have Fun” And so I did.
Tapioca is a rather familiar product utilized around the world now for many of years in the form of Sweet Puddings, Flours, A Thickening Agent, Parfaits, and Gluten-Free substitutes for those who need to keep their Celiac at bay. In order to fully understand the avenue in which I decided to follow with the Tapioca Pearls, I will Explain a bit About the make-up of Tapioca.
Some where deep in Brazil, a tuber had originated many of years ago deemed the Yuca Root (also referred to as Cassava). Now in a society where almost every product in the market can be made “Local” the potato-like root has traveled the world over to be processed and utilized by almost every different culture. The Root can be found either Sweet or Bitter in flavor, is always Toxic when eaten raw and must be peeled before consumption. The nutritional value is minute except for the high abundance of carbohydrates . Many cultures in Africa and Southern America use the root in the same manner that starchy potatoes are often Used; boiling, baking, slicing and frying to make wedges and fries. Once the Yuca Root has been processed into Tapioca, the product is available in many forms from powders to pellets. The “Pearls” are a form of the pellet and can are made readily available in many Asian and Specialty markets in different sizes.
Here is how to make A Flavored Tapioca Chip
First I used a ration of 2 to 1 liquid to tapioca pearls. The Pellets are capable of absorbing enough liquid to easily double in size. I choose to use a watered down, left-over Kalamata Olive Brine. Many of times in seeing this process, the tapioca is saturated in water and seasoned after fried. I wanted to see if the fried Tapioca Could produce a crisp with the same integrity in flavor as the liquid it was cooked in.
I brought the Olive brine to a simmer and added the Tapioca Pearls, then steeped the mixture until the tapioca grew plump and translucent. The tapioca grew tacky in consistency, creating a gelled pudding feel ensuring that the starches have been broken down adequately.
I covered a sheet pan in plastic wrap (A sheet pan lined with a Silpat would be Ideal but I seemed to have misplaced mine), then poured the tapioca onto the surface. I spread the Orbs, stretching the mix as far across the pan as possible creating as thin a layer as I could.
To dehydrate, I left the Pan out on a kitchen counter over night and it seemed to work perfectly. I Poked the middle of the dried mass and watched the thin sheet crack into several large flakes.
Preheat a small vat of frying oil to 350°F, begin to drop your pieces and watch the Magic begin. With in seconds, the flakes erupt in crackles and pops, puffing and blooming into crisps that resemble the crunchy gas station Pork Rinds. Quickly remove the Crisps once the have full bloomed and place them on a paper towel to soak up any residual oil. Season now if you’d like.
As I crunch into my first batch, My mind is Blown. Even after watering down the brine a Bit, without seasoning, it is wildly apparent that I am tasting Olive. I was shocked and excited with how strong the flavor was pronounced and how much of the opaque maroon hue was still evident after being fried.
My mind begins to race immediately with applications, This could be a fun Crunchy garnish on Nicoise Salad. Cooked in your favorite Vinegar and finished with Sea Salt, you could produce your own Salt&Vinegar Crisps as a quick snack. Possibilities are endless, and eating the Fried Tapioca Crisps are just as fun as making them.