Jicama is available year round with a peak season December to June.
Showing up in all sorts of irregular shapes, jicama, pronounced HEE-ka-mah, offers a delicious white crisp flesh tightly wrapped in a tannish-ivory colored easy-to-peel skin. Sweet in flavor, its texture is wonderfully crunchy. Varying in size, jicama can weigh anywhere from one-half pound to five or six pounds.
Very low in sodium, raw jicama contains about 50 calories per cup. This pleasurable vegetable is a good source of potassium and offers a fairly good source of vitamin C. Eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables lowers the chances of cancer. A recent study found that eating nine or ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables, combined with three servings of low-fat dairy products, were effective in lowering blood pressure.
Jicama’s crisp white flesh is most commonly eaten fresh in salads. Raw or cooked, jicama adds delicious crunch to most anything. Maintaining its texture, bake, steam, braise, deep-fry or boil. Cut in strips; serve with dips. Perfect for prepared-ahead hors d’oeuvres. Dice; smother in flavorful sauces. Ideal for adding crunch to stir-fries. Pair with seafood and poultry. Jicama makes a perfect substitute for water chestnuts. To prepare, peel away fibrous outer skin; cut into desired shapes. To store, wrap cut jicama tightly in plastic; refrigerate. For optimum taste, crunch and texture, use within one week. Peeled and cut jicama may be stored in vinegar or lemon water to preserve freshness. Refrigerated whole unpeeled and uncut jicama does not require wrapping and keeps about three weeks. If fibrous or starchy, use in cooked dishes.
In Malaysia, jicama is a favored ingredient in salads and included in their specialty “poh pia”. Southeast Asia calls this tuber bangkwang and the Chinese know it as sa kot or yam bean. Mexican communities love to eat chilled slices sprinkled with chili powder, salt and limejuice.
Native to Mexico and also called Mexican potato or Mexican turnip, jicama is a tropical legume which produces an edible fleshy taproot. Quite aggressive, the plant is full of energy when it grows. Its low to the ground vines can spread several feet in diameter. Jicama requires a long warm growing season and relatively short days. Mature plants bear white or blue flowers and pods that look a lot like lima beans. Of the many jicama cultivars, Pachyrrizus erosus is the primary variety found in markets. The Chinese were instantly attracted to jicama’s tasty goodness when introduced to this culinary treat and eagerly made it one of their favorite crops. American chefs also have taken a liking to its crunchy texture.
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