Mar 212012

JicamaJicama, (pronounced HICK-ah-mah) is a root vegetable. These tubers can weigh up to six pounds and look like a seriously overgrown radish or turnip, with a dull brown skin. Jicama is native to Mexico, Central and South America, where it is a dietary staple often served with lime juice and chili powder.

Looks aren’t everything; and these funny looking tubers are far from boring. While they may not be considered a super food, they do have a very high Vitamin C content, are very low in calories, and pack in a good amount of fiber. Plus, they’re just fun. I love textures in food, and jicama can be wonderfully refreshing along side tacos or with dip, but also stays crunchy and can take on the flavors of ingredients in other dishes.

Raw jicama has a crisp, sweet and nutty taste — similar to a pear or an apple, crossed with a water chestnut or potato. It’s both sweet and starchy, and makes an excellent crunchy addition to salads because it does not discolor when peeled or sliced, and blends nicely with many vegetables and seasonings. I use it in place of water chestnuts in stir-fry dishes.
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How to select Jicama

Select small to medium-sized jicama that is shiny, heavy for its size, and without cracks or blemishes. The overly large or shriveled ones are likely to be woody or tough. Look for thin skin.  Scrub well to remove dirt, then peel. Depending on how you are going to use it, cut, grate, slice, or julienne just the amount you plan to use, and store the rest. To avoid any minor discoloring after cutting, submerge in cool water with a few drops of lemon juice.

Store jicama in a cool, dry place, uncovered, for up to 2 or 3 weeks (as you would potatoes). Once you’ve peeled and cut or sliced it, refrigerate in a plastic bag or sealed container for up to 10 days.  • Jicama has 86-90% water content. It was used as a staple onboard ships because it stored well, could be eaten raw, and was thirst quenching. • One cup sliced jicama has 46 calories, 10.6 grams of carbohydrate, 5 mg of sodium, and five grams of fiber.

Jicama salad recipe
Fun facts and tips on using Jicama

• You might hear people refer to Jicama as Mexican turnip, yacon, yam bean, or Mexican water chestnut.

• Match jicama with cayenne, chili peppers, cilantro, citrus, cucumber, ginger, lime, mangoes, salt, soy and vinaigrette. •

Use as a replacement for potatoes! Jicama has a slightly sweet flavor and only 20% of the calories and carbs. Try this: Use 2 cups cubed jicama, chopped onion, minced garlic, parsley, and rosemary. Toss with olive oil, spread on baking sheet, and roast for about an hour-stirring every 15 minutes.

Jicama salad recipe

Try this week’s recipe for a crunchy and tangy jicama salad.

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