16 . 04 . 18
Recipe: Tapioca Pancakes Two Ways

Tapioca pancake with harissa pulled pork, chillis, coriander and butternet on the bottom left. Crepioca with dulce de leche, top right. Recipe and image by Julia Georgallis.

I am very much part of the Pro Gluten Campaign. Ok, fine, this isn’t a real campaign and I’ve just made it up but the point is, I like gluten. Gluten is good. We’ve been eating it for thousands of years now and I’ve never heard of any cavemen complaining about bloating so I think it’s fine. So imagine my surprise when during my time in Brazil, I got totally obsessed with tapioca, the flour now hailed (by people of dubious nutritional sensibilities) as one of the most reliable gluten free options*. Tapioca is made from cassava, a root grown in South America and also known as yuca, manioca and mandioca. It’s used quite a lot in Brazilian cooking. Either it is eaten in root form – boiled or fried (I love fried manioca, it tastes like a banana had a baby with a potato) or ground down and sprinkled over meat and rice (known as farofa). Or, it becomes a starchy flour and makes stodgy but nice cakes. So that I can pass the cassava love on, however, I think by far the the most accessible way to cook with it is the flour, which is called tapioca – pearly white floury beads which can be bought either online, in health shops or in South American supermarkets. Here are two recipes for two different sorts of tapioca pancakes.

SAVOURY VERSION: Tapioca da Marie (Harissa pulled pork, butternut squash, coriander and chili peppers served on tapioca)
I first ate this on the side of a street after a night out in Floripa, at a street food stand called ‘Tapioca da Marie’ – Marie in question makes excellent tapiocas, possibly the best ones I’ve ever had in Brazil. I have directly pinched this recipe from her, adding harissa to the mix – I hope she doesn’t mind.

Makes enough for 4 hungry people

800 g pork
200 g Harissa paste
A glug of olive oil
1 x medium butternut squash
A handful of pickled red chillis – pimenta biquinho or little beak peppers are fantastic, failing that you can get any other type of small, sweet pepper.
A handful of chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to season
A heavy based, well buttered frying pan
A bag of tapioca flour

1. The night before, mix up 170 g Harissa paste and a good glug of olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper in a small bowl, then coat the pork with the mixture. Pop it in the fridge and leave it to marinade overnight (or for at least 3 hours).
2. Put the pork in a deep pan and fill with water until it is just covered. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 hours until the meat falls off the bone. Once it is ready, drain the meat. (You can keep the liquid and use as stock).
3. While the pork is boiling, chop up the butternut into squares, cover with olive oil salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes at 200 degrees celsius, until soft. Drain and season.
4. Heat up a well oiled/ buttered (depending on what you prefer to use) pan until it is very hot.
5. Using a sieve, sprinkle the tapioca over the pan so that the bottom of the pan is not visible anymore and so that the layer of tapioca flour is about 7 mm thick. It takes a bit of practise to get the consistency of the pancake right.
6. Leave the layer of tapioca to heat up for about 2 minutes, then carefully flip it over to fry for 2 minutes on the other side (if the layer is not thick enough it will break at this point) Take it off the heat and add a little bit of butter or oil to the top of the pancake.
7. When all the components are ready, arrange them all on top of the pancake. Add another 30 g of harissa, the chili peppers and coriander, season to taste and you are ready to go!

SWEET VERSION: Crepioca with bananas, dulce de leche and dessicated coconut
‘Crepiocas’ are, no surprise, a mixture between a crepe and tapioca pancake, apart from they are a bit chewier than a normal crepe.

Makes enough for 4 hungry people

200 g dessicated coconut
100 g dulce de leche (or salted caramel will do)
1 egg
200 g tapioca flour
1 chopped up banana
A heavy based, well buttered frying pan


1. Whisk the egg in a cup, then add it to the tapioca flour and mix together quickly. The consistency should look just like crepe batter.
2. Just like you would to make a European crepe, heat up a well buttered frying pan and pour the tapioca egg mixture into it, flipping it over every 2 minutes or until each side is golden brown.
3. In another clean frying pan, add a little butter, scatter the coconut and fry at a high heat until it begins to brown.
4. When the pancakes are ready, spread a spoonful of dulce de leche on the pancake, then add the chopped bananas and sprinkle the fried coconut on top.

*I’m aware that I’ve made some big sweeping statements, but I’m going to wade into this debate a bit later on, because for now it’s too massive to start explaining my opinions and all I really want to do is talk about pancakes.