Janny de Moor Janny de Moor

Cassava starch crêpes


Baking tool:

  • non-stick frying pan,
  • bottom 18 cm diameter
  • sieve


Dough (makes 10 crêpes) :

  • 350 g tapioca starch
  • about 210 ml cold water
  • pinch of salt

During an international Slow Food gathering I was happy to meet Teresa Corçao, top chef and owner of  Restaurante O Navegador, a famous restaurant in Rio de Janeiro. At that time I was looking for pancakes from all over the world and she promised me to send a very specific Brazilian recipe. Which she did. She concentrates on regional specialties and to promote the Brazilian culinary culture she started ‘Istituto Maniva’ in 2007. She wrote me that her recipe is in fact a great Indian invention. Beiju are made all over the country in many variations: thick, grilled, sometimes thin, such as this version from the Amazon region. They are eaten with something savoury (see below) or sweet (banana with chocolate sauce), or rolled up just with a knot of butter.

The ‘tapioca pearls’ to make a sauce or slippery pudding are ousted by corn flour or potato starch in most European kitchens but starch of tapioca (a Portuguese word) you can always buy in Asiatic stores. This flour of the cassava root or manioc (manihot esculenta, origin West Brazil) is a popular thickening in Chinese cuisine.

  • The filling should be waiting if you want to pack it into the warm crêpe. This can be everything, if not too moist and somewhat coherent. For instance grated cheese, combined with good drained cooked spinach, fried onions and minced red pepper. Or kidney beans mashed with fried onions, diced smoked bacon and tomato pureé. Garnish: coriander leaves and cherry tomatoes.
  • Traditionally the starch is moistenend rubbing by hand. I found it easier to use the kneading hooks of a mixer in a deep bowl. Gradually pour in a very little amount of water untill loose crumbs are formed. If you add too much water you will get a porridge. In that case: add extra starch. Add salt, pulverize the crumbs with a big spoon to get a kind of snow.
  • Heat the frying pan over moderate flame.
  • Sift a thin, almost translucent layer of ‘snow’ into the frying pan, starting at the edge. Press down with a broad spatula. As soon as a cake is formed, turn over with the spatula and bake the other side for a second.
  • Slide the white crêpe out of the pan, put the filling on top, fold in two, press the edge with a finger. Eat warm or cold.

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