Jicama

| September 22, 2011

In Mexico, I grew up with a lot of ingredients that I missed when I moved out of the country. Gladly, some of those ingredients started to be available where I lived. For example I was easily able to find tomatillos, Poblano peppers, nopales and jicama.

What is Jicama (hee-kah-mah)? The name jicama comes from the Nahuatl Xicamatl and it is also known as yam bean, Mexican potato and Mexican turnip. Although Jicama is a vine, the name commonly refers to the edible tuberous root of the plant. Its taste is mildly sweet and crispy and it’s perfect as a refreshment on a hot day when eaten raw.

Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) belongs to the legume or bean family (Fabaceae) and is native to Mexico, Central and South America where it is a popular dietary staple. It had been cultivated by all major Mesoamerican civilizations. The Spanish introduced it to the Philippines in the 17th century and from there to Southeast Asia and China. Today it is most prominently used in Mexico, South China and in the U.S.

The crop is cultivated in frost-free climates, grown in rows from seeds, and within a year this vine is harvested for its large taproot. To eat jicama, only the fibrous brownish peel must be removed. The rest of the plant, a legume with trifoliate leaves, is thrown away since it might be poisonous.

Jicama can be eaten in raw salads, although in Mexico the ivory-colored flesh is marinated with lime and sprinkled with chili powder. The skin is typically peeled before eating it raw. Raw jicama taste is described as crisp, sweet and nutty, similar to a pear or an apple, or a cross between an apple and a potato.

Jicama it’s also delicious when cooked as a vegetable. It maintains much of its crispiness when cooked and it’s perfect when it’s sautéed with other vegetables or used in stews.

1 cup (100 gr) of raw, sliced jicama is an excellent source of vitamin D (24 mg) and also contains:
Calories: 46
Protein: 0.86g
Carbohydrate: 10.6g
Total Fat: 0.11g
Fiber: 5.8g

Here are two recipes to use jicama. One is for a salad that was delicious and refreshing and the other for a light and healthy spring rolls dinner. Enjoy and buen provecho!

Jicama salad
Ingredients:
1 small jicama, sliced
1 small butter lettuce
1 small red Boston lettuce
1/4 lb cherry tomatoes
2 radishes, sliced
1/2 red onion sliced

For the dressing
2 TB olive oil
The juice of 3 key limes
1 TB honey
1/2 tsp dill
1 TB chilli powder or dried peppers (the ones used for pizza)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Place the lettuce at the bottom of a platter and arrange jicama, tomatoes, radishes and onion on top.
2. In a small bowl mix all the dressing ingredients very well and drizzle over the salad.
3. Serve and enjoy.

Jicama and chicken filling for Spring Rolls
Makes enough for 6-8 spring rolls
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 chicken breast
1 TB yellow mustard
1 TB olive oil
1/4 red onion, sliced
1 small green bell pepper, deveined and sliced
1 small jicama, julienned – approximately 1 lb (1/2 Kg)
1 lime
2 tsp paprika or chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
6-8 rice paper sheets

Directions
1. Seasoned chicken breast and spread mustard on top. Grill until done and cut in medium size cubes. Set apart.
2. In a large skillet sautee onion, bell pepper and jicama for 7-9 minutes. You want the vegetables to stay crunchy.
3. Add the juice of the lime, paprika and salt and pepper to taste and mix well. Let it cool down.
4. Build your spring rolls. Here’s a very good video on how to do this.
5. Serve cool and enjoy.

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Category: Appetizers, Featured, Featured Articles: Travel & Culture, Main Dish - Land and Sea, Main Dish - Vegetarian, Mexico, Lat & South America, Recipe Vault, Travel & Culture

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  1. chris s says:

    Hi! Hi! Can you give me some pointers on how to select a “good” jicama? THANKS! – chris

  2. Carolyn says:

    Great article and recipes! I’d almost completely forgotten about jicama…ate it lots when I lived in the Southwest but don’t come across it much now that I am in the Northeast!

  3. Ariel says:

    yummy yummy! thanks for sharing the great recipes!

  4. Patty says:

    OMG. this post is phenomenal. i love jicama! But the only way I’ve ever eaten it is raw (straight up like an apple or in a salad). Love the recipe ideas you’ve got here. Delicious! And as always, thanks for the background information!

  5. Peggy says:

    I love jicama! I usually slice it real thin with a mandoline and use them as taco shells for vegetarian tacos – soooo good!

  6. great article, I adore jicama!! thank you for sharing!!

  7. I love jicama — it’s so tasty raw! Your salad rolls look delicious. theresa

  8. texturally speaking this is one of my favorite things to eat!

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