By Alyssa St-Jean (lowfatlowcarb.com)
I know what you are thinking. What the heck is a jicama?!? The new cha-cha? No! silly… It’s a deliciously awesome vegetable!
I had no idea what in the world this weird and lets be honest “ugly” vegetable was either until a few months ago. I had no idea where to find it and even at that what to do with once I did find it… Sigh… And if you’re anything like me, you’re kind of afraid of trying new vegetables too. What if I don’t like it? I did not want to be scared anymore! It was time I broaden my horizons. So, the search was on! I was determined to try Jicama and then I finally broke the ice!
Where was this gem hiding? I think you will be as surprised and impressed as I was!
Jicama is a very low calorie root plant that is part the legume family along with chickpeas and green beans. Its texture is similar to an Asian pear that has been cross bread with a raw potato creating a mildly sweet crisp and juicy taste. Yum! I know right? If you are from the U.S. or Mexico, Jicama is commonly referred to as the Mexican potato, the Mexican Yam or the Mexican turnip. Fun fact: The name Jicama refers to the part of the plant’s edible root known as the tuber. It is important to know that this is the only part of the plant that you should eat. This is because the upper part of the plant (vines, leaves, flowers and seeds) contains certain levels of rotenone. Rotenone is very poisonous and is a common ingredient used in insecticides and pesticides. Jicama loves to grow in warm temperatures such as tropical type weather so, since you probably won’t be growing it at home, you don’t need to worry about this.
Where to buy it?
Jicama is available at your local farmer’s market all year round however; the best season is from October to spring. If you cannot find the root where you regularly shop for your groceries, don’t be afraid to ask but make sure to get the pronunciation down pat before you do. Jicama is pronounced: Hee-Kah-Mah. Fun to say isn’t it?
Ok great, so now you that you have found the Jicamas, how to select one? Look for tubers that are nice and firm with a silky sheen. Be selective! You don’t want any blemished tubers either! Once, you have chosen the most beautiful Jicamas, knick the skin. With this method, you will be able to see if the tubers are nice and juicy. This is an important practice when selecting the perfect tubers because often, the older, thicker and larger ones are dry and fibrous. Yuck!
How to use it?
With the help of a paring knife, remove the skin from the tuber. You will notice that once one section is done, it will get easier to peel. Don’t forget to trim the fibrous bits as well! Then, you can go ahead and chop it up to your desired cut: sliced, cubed, julienned, brunoised, etc. Jicama does not discolor with air contact so you can do your prep work at anytime. When the jicama is pre-cut, it is best kept it in the refrigerator for up to one week however, when the jicama is still whole, you can keep it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Therefore, plan your meals accordingly.
Jicama is most frequently used raw however; it is very good cooked as well. Think of a stir-fry or sautéed veggies. Jicama is a champ at soaking up sauces so its perfect for a wide variety of dishes! Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate jicama in my daily diet:
• Fresh spring rolls – thinly sliced for that perfect bite.
• Soups – cube it up for a hearty texture!
• Salads – add some crunch!
• Slaw – you just can’t go wrong with this one.
• Jicama fries – My absolute favorite!!! Check out my recipe below:
Serves one person
2 cups jicama, julienned
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp grapeseed oil
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chili powder
sea salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium sized bowl, toss jicama, limejuice, garlic powder, grapeseed oil, paprika chili powder, sea salt and pepper to taste. Spread the jicama slices evenly on your lined cookie sheet and place in the oven. Let the fries cook for approximately 30 minutes, turning half way or until desired doneness is reached. Enjoy!
Note: You can modify the ingredient measurements according to your taste buds!