Tapioca Crepes​—A Brazilian Delicacy

By Awake! writer in Brazil

IN Brazil, tapioca can refer to several different products derived from the cassava plant. One of them is plain, rustic flatbread. This type of bread looks more like a crepe and is often called a tapioca crepe. It is made of a fine starch known as polvilho doce or goma, which is produced from the fleshy rootstocks of the cassava plant.

After the rootstocks are grated and pressed, they yield a milky-white liquid. The liquid is set aside to allow the solids to settle to the bottom. The liquid is then discarded, and the solids, a starchy mass, are left to dry in the sun.

Tapioca was a staple food of the Indians. Later, Portuguese settlers found tapioca to be a good substitute for bread. It was not until a few years ago, however, that tapioca caught the eye of some inventive Brazilian chefs, who decided to convert it into a trendy item on their restaurant menus.

Wishing to please a more select public, the chefs came up with new versions of the crepes, adding their flair to an old favorite. Today tapioca crepes have become a great success, giving a special charm to Brazilian cuisine. Quite a few acclaimed restaurants owe their fame to their crepes.

Why not try making these crepes yourself? They will delight your family and friends and will broaden their tastes as well.

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Making Tapioca Crepes

Ingredients for eight crepes:

3 cups [350 g] polvilho doce, 1 1⁄2 cups [350 ml] water, and a little salt.

Directions: In a medium-size bowl, sprinkle water over the polvilho doce and the salt, and combine them with your fingertips. Gradually add more water while rubbing the mixture between your hands until it resembles coarse crumbs and you are able to shape it into a ball that does not stick to your hands. Then press the ball through a sieve. It is now ready for making crepes.

Heat a nonstick eight-inch [20 cm] skillet over medium-low heat. Put one eighth of the mixture in the skillet, and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon. Cook for two to four minutes, or until the mixture sticks together and forms a flat cake, separating from the pan at the edges. Turn with a plastic spatula, and cook the other side for a minute. Repeat this process with the remaining mixture. Stack the cooked crepes.

A new face can be given to tapioca crepes by adding different fillings. For breakfast, try spreading butter on them while they are still hot, and then add two tablespoons of freshly shredded coconut. Or you can pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crepes, add coconut, fold the crepes, and serve.

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Cassava rootstocks

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A tapioca crepe with coconut and condensed milk filling