What is a Jicama?

Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is becoming more common in grocery stores and restaurants, but is still unfamiliar in the kitchens of many. So what is it exactly? Jicama may also be referred to as a “Mexican yam” or a “yam bean.” That is because jicama is technically part of the bean family. From the outside, it can easily be mistaken for a brown, Idaho potato! The inside is white and crisp. The flavor is slightly starchy, but also sweet and tangy. It is similar to biting into a raw potato combined with a tart apple.

Jicama (HEE-kah-ma) is becoming more common in grocery stores and restaurants, but is still unfamiliar in the kitchens of many! So what is it exactly?

The peak season for jicama runs from fall into early spring. It is made up of 80-90% water, so it is a great hydration source. It’s an excellent source of fiber, and contains a type of prebiotic that is good for digestive health. It also contains potassium and vitamin C. It can be eaten in a variety of ways:

  • Raw! Once the outer skin is peeled, slice into strips and dip in ranch dressing or hummus. This may be a good way to try it if introducing to kids.
  • Sautéed. Jicama makes a great addition to stir-fry. It can be cut into strips or chunks and incorporated with the other vegetables. It can easily take the place of water chestnuts, as they have a similar texture.
  • Roasted. Peel the outside and cut into cubes. Drizzle with olive oil and favorite spices. Pop into the oven alone or with other root or hearty vegetables.
  • Toppings. Makes a great addition to any salad!
Jicama, Avocado and Radish Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
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For the vinaigrette
  1. ¼ cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  2. 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  3. ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad
  1. 1 medium-size bunch radishes (5 ounces), trimmed and sliced very thin
  2. 1 large Hass avocado, diced
  3. 1 medium jicama (about 400g), peeled and sliced in matchsticks or julienned
  4. 4-5 Bird’s-eye chili or any dried red chili, roasted and ground for garnish
  5. ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)
  6. salt to taste (optional)
  1. Dry-roast dried chili peppers in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes until darkened, but not blackened. Keep stirring to get all sides toasted evenly. Remove from heat and let them cool before grinding. When cooled, remove the stems and grind them using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. This makes about 1 tablespoon or so. Keep the ground chili pepper in a jar in the pantry for up to a year.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and salt. Add olive oil in a thin stream into a bowl while whisking, about 10 seconds.
  3. In a large bowl, combine radishes, avocado and jicama. Add vinaigrette to taste (all may not be needed), and toss gently. Add salt to taste (optional). Sprinkle with ground dried chili (used 2 teaspoons) and chopped cilantro leaves
  1. Advance preparation: The vinaigrette can be made a few hours ahead. The salad keeps well for day or two in the refrigerator. Keeping: Store the vinaigrette in a covered container and use within 3 days. Whisk before using. Note: For a spicier version, add 1½ tablespoons freshly ground dried chili instead.
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Alana Scopel

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