Malanga, Vaca Frita, Mojito...Yum!

The Early Show, Cuban food fest, Jane Clayson and Viviana Carballo
CBS/The Early Show
This Friday, June 21, The Early Show kicks off its Summer Food Fests with Cuban cuisine. As the popularity of all things Latin continues to flourish, so does Latin foods.

Guests are: Cuban-born Viviana Carballo, a food writer and contributing editor for Cooking Light magazine; Chef Douglas Rodriguez, creator of "Nuevo Latino" cuisine, author of three cookbooks, and owner of the new Alma de Cuba restaurant in Philadelphia; and Joe del Monte, manager of New York's Calle Ocho restaurant.

The following are their recipes and comments:

Appetizers From Viviana Carballo

Enchilada de Camarones/Deviled Shrimp
A traditional dish that is quick to make and satisfying to eat!

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
½ (half) red pepper, diced
½ (half) green pepper, diced
½ (half) yellow pepper, diced (optional)
1 Habanero pepper, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ripe tomato, diced
1 pound medium shrimp, clean, without shells
salt, fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon lemon juice
minced parsley for garnish


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet, add the onion and the rest of the ingredients in the order given up to shrimp. Stir the sofrito and cook until soft. Add the shrimp, stir to coat, adjust seasoning and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with lemon juice and minced parsley.

Croquetas de bacalao/Cod Croquettes
A delicacy at parties - traditional and still popular!

Ingredients for the croquettes:
12 ounces (3 cans) salt cod in Salsa Vizcaína
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons minced parsley
for the béchamel sauce
3 tablespoons butter
4 - 5 tablespoons flour
2 cups hot milk
grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
for the breading
2 eggs slightly beaten
freshly made very fine dried bread crumbs
light olive oil for frying


  1. Drain the cod and flake. Heat the oil in a skillet, cook the onion until soft, add the garlic and cod. Add the parsley, stir and cook for about 2 minutes. Check seasoning.
  2. Make the béchamel by melting the butter in a heavy casserole until it foams. Add the flour and stir while cooking for about 3 minutes. Drizzle the hot milk while whisking. Add seasonings and continue whisking for about 5 minutes. Sauce should be shiny, smooth and thick.
  3. Mix the cod with the béchamel and spread on a platter or cookie sheet. Refrigerate to cool completely. With floured hands, shape the cod mixture into 1/2-inch balls, coat with beaten eggs, cover with bread crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to fry.
  4. Heat the oil in a skillet or deep fryer to 350 degrees F. or until it quickly browns a cube of bread. Fry the croquettes until golden on all sides. Can be kept warm in a 200 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes.

Calabaza Fritters
These have always been considered special by Cubans. They are perfect with just about anything, but especially with a fiery oxtail stew or juicy pork chops.

1 calabaza, about 3 pounds
1 cinnamon stick
4 star anise
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter
l large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 (half) cup flour
3/4 (three quarters) teaspoon baking powder
oil for frying


  1. Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees F. Wash calabaza, cut in chunks, remove seeds and strings. Place in an oven-proof container with about a half inch of water, place cinnamon and star anise in the water. Sprinkle calabaza with brown sugar, bake until very tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, discard all liquid, peel calabaza and process to make a fine puree. Measure two cups of puree, transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool completely.
  2. Add melted butter, slightly beaten egg, salt and sugar and mix well. Sift flour and baking powder together and mix thoroughly. Allow dough to rest about 30 minutes before frying.
  3. Heat to medium high (375 degrees F on thermometer) 2 to 3inches oil in a deep, heavy cast iron skillet or Dutch oven. Fill a teaspoon with dough and drop into hot oil. If first fritter spreads out, add a little more flour. The flour to calabaza ratio is not exact as some calabazas contain more water than others. Repeat to adjust.
  4. Cook in batches making sure skillet is not over crowded as this will create steam. Move the oil with the back of a slotted spoon and turn fritters over to brown on all sides. Fritters should be golden. Drain over paper towels and keep warm until ready to serve. Will render 20 to 30 small fritters.

Frituritas de Malanga/Malanga Fritters
Malanga is also known as yautía, taro, or dasheen. It is dark brown and hairy on the outside, and very white inside, they look like elongated potatoes. Malanga fritters are always referred to in the diminutive and affectionate, we treasure them. A good friturita de malanga might very well define a cook. The different recipes are always heatedly discussed. There are those who believe neither egg nor flour should be added; others are proponents of one or both ingredients. Some say the dough should be well beaten until smooth, others that it should be rough and not be handled much. Always present are garlic and parsley, except when the frituritas are made for dessert to be served with sugar-cane syrup. But everyone agrees that they must be made with raw malanga grated by hand - no processors allowed! My version adds the also disputed teaspoon of vinegar, which I find essential for the crispness of the friturita.

1 pound malanga
1 egg, slightly beaten
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon white vinegar
oil for frying


  1. Cut the malangas in half to make it easier to peel. Grate on the coarse side of a hand grater. Place in a bowl with all ingredients except oil and mix with a fork.
  2. Allow to rest for about 15 minutes, if dough seems too loose add more grated malanga. Heat oil and proceed to fry as above. (These are not breaded before frying)
  3. Tips for perfect fritters:
    Allow dough to rest about 20 minutes

    Use clean vegetable oil, the same oil can be refrigerated and used again for fritters, but don't use more than 3 or 4 times, or if it turns dark

    Heat oil to medium high, (375 degrees F on thermometer), 2 to 3inches oil in a deep, heavy cast iron skillet or Dutch oven.

    Make fritters small, use a teaspoon

    Drop into hot oil, if first fritter spreads out, add a little more flour or more of the grated vegetable you are using to make a firmer dough. Recipes cannot be absolutely exact as the texture of the vegetables is not consistent

    Cook in batches making sure skillet is not overcrowded as this will create steam. Move the oil with the back of a slotted spoon and turn fritters over to brown on all sides. Fritters should be golden. Drain over paper towels and keep warm until ready to serve.

Mariquitas/Plantain Chips

1 large very green plantain
oil for frying

Note: Ripe plantains can be peeled just like bananas but green ones require special handling. Using a sharp knife, slice off the ends and cut the green plantain in half. Make two lengthwise slits at the natural ridges of the skin, cutting through to the flesh, from one end to the other. Then lift the skin away with the edge of the knife pulling across rather than lengthwise. Green plantains will stain and if you can perform this little operation under running water, so much the better. After peeled and cut, keep them in water with a little lemon (not necessary with ripe plantains).


  1. Peel the plantains as described above.
  2. Heat the oil in a deep skillet to medium and slice the plantains very thinly using a mandoline or a very sharp knife.
  3. Slide the plantain slices into the oil, be sure no to crowd, move the oil using the back of a spoon.
  4. When chips are lightly colored, like a deep yellow, but before they begin to brown remove with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels.
  5. Salt liberally. Repeat until the whole plantain has been fried.

Drink Recipes From Calle Ocho Restaurant

Classic Mojito

4 tablespoons of sugar
3 lime wedges (half a lime)
8-10 mint leaves
2 ounces of rum
club soda


  • Muddle the sugar, lime wedges and mint leaves into a shaker. After the mixture is thoroughly blended, add rum. Add ice and shake thoroughly. Pour into rocks' glasses and top off with a splash of club coda. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Watermelon Mojito

2 1/2 ounces melon puree'
1 ounce simple syrup
5-6 mint leaves
lime juice
2 ounces light rum


  1. Puree a slice of watermelon and a slice of honeydew in a blender. Combine 2 1/2 ounces of your melon puree with an ounce of simple syrup, 5-6 mint leaves, and a splash of fresh lime juice in a shaker.
  2. Add 2 ounces of light rum, ice and shake thoroughly. Pour into a rocks glass and garnish with a floating melon ball.

Virgin Watermelon Mojito
Follow the same steps to a watermelon mojito, excluding rum from the recipe.

About Viviana Carballo:

Viviana Carballo is a 63-year-old Cuban-born woman working as a Miami-based free-lance food writer and food consultant for Hispanic markets. A recipient of the Grand Diplome from the Paris Cordon Bleu, she has also been a food columnist for the Miami Herald, cooking teacher, and corporate chef. Recently, Viviana wrote an article in "Cooking Light" Magazine on cooking Cuban in a more health conscious way. She explains, "traditional Cuban cooking is all about nostalgia and emotions." Carballo adds, "the logical next step is Douglas Rodriguez. He is the next generation giving new vitality to Cuban cuisine."

About Chef Douglas Rodriguez:

Chef Douglas Rodriguez is regarded as the inventor of Nuevo Latino cuisine, and is one of America's most honored chefs. He is the executive chef and co-owner of three hot restaurants: Chicama and Pipa in Manhattan, and the new Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia. Chicama is the Nuevo Latino flagship, featuring a ceviche bar and an Ecuadorian Eucalyptus Rotisserie.

At Pipa, Rodriguez focuses on tapas, and offers an all-Spanish/Latin wine list. Philly's Alma de Cuba features his version of home-style cooking honoring Cuban life through food, design and atmosphere. In fact, Alma de Cuba, translates to "The Soul of Cuba." Rodriguez, who was born to Cuban immigrants, feels his cuisine is very close to his heart, and is proud to be representing his heritage in this restaurant. He is also the author of three cookbooks published by Ten-Speed Press: "Nuevo Latino," "Latin Ladles" and "Latin Flavors on the Grill." His next book is due out in 2003, and will reveal his mastery of ceviches.

About Calle Ocho:

Calle Ocho is a sophisticated Nuevo Latino restaurant, on the Upper West Side. It is the brainchild of the partnership between Jeff Kadish, Steve Scher, Paul Zweden and Spencer Rothchild. The quartet also owns and operates Rain and Union Pacific. The restaurant opened in 1998, riding the trend of serving high-concept Latin-Asian fusion cuisine. Named after the bustling Eighth Street in Miami's Little Havana, Calle Ocho has made its mark in the four years since its opening.

Head chef, Alex Garcia learned from the best. He was the protege' to the above-mentioned Douglas Rodriguez at Patria and Yuca prior to joining Calle Ocho. His menu combines two distinctive types of food. What he calls "Anglo dishes", American-type dishes such as chicken and potatoes that are embellished with Cuban spices such as saffron and "Authentic dishes" which are native to his homeland of Cuba.

In addition to their upscale Cuban dishes, Calle Ocho has also been heralded for their authentic Cuban drinks. Whether you're looking for a classic mojito, a pisco sour or a mango daiquiri, patrons are sure to find something to tantalize their taste buds.

Calle Ocho
446 Columbus Avenue (b/w 81st & 82nd Streets)
New York, NY