This concise guide to jícama has tips on how to buy, store, and use this tasty tuber that’s most commonly available in the fall.
Shaped like a turnip with a thin, rough tan skin (which should be peeled before using), jícama is a tuber that lends itself to lots of preparations. While its unique qualities are best showcased by using it raw, it can also be sautéed, stir-fried, and roasted.
If it’s nice and fresh, the flesh is juicy, with a texture that’s can be described as a cross between apple, turnip (or radish), and water chestnut. Native to Latin America, it has a slightly sweet flavor that makes it compatible with both vegetables and fruits in various dishes.
Jícama is pronounced HIK-ka-ma. It has variously been called Mexican potato, yam bean, Mexican turnip, and other quaint names rarely used any longer.
This information is excerpted and adapted from Melissa’s Great Book of Produce: Everything You Need to Know About Fresh Fruits and Vegetables by Cathy Thomas ©2006, reprinted by permission of Melissa’s Produce.
Try this late-summer treat: Avocado and Jícama Salad with Blueberries & Roasted Corn
How to buy and store
In its true season (the fall months) you can find jícama in supermarkets, natural foods stores, farm markets, and ethnic groceries. Can’t find it? Order online at Melissa’s,
Small or medium-size jícamas are often the best; large, thick-skinned jicamas can be dry and fibrous. Avoid those with cracks or shriveling.
Store whole in cool location for several days, or refrigerate up to 3 weeks. Once cut, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate; use within 1 week.
How to prep
Trim away the knobby top and bottom of the vegetable. The easiest way is to peel is to first cut the jícama into 1/2-inch-thick rounds or half-rounds. Cut the peel away with a paring knife.
Cut into desired shape: cubes, slices, or sticks. Seal any any unused portion tightly in plastic wrap to prevent drying, and refrigerate.
Jícama is low in calories, has almost zero fat, and is a good source of fiver. An excellent source of vitamin C, it also provides modest amounts of iron, magnesium, copper, and other minerals. See more about its nutritional profile.
Baked Jícama fries
Easy ways to use jícama
Jïcama fries: Here’s a super tasty idea. Peel and cut a jícama or two into fry shapes. Toss in a little olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasonings — paprika, Italian seasoning, garlic salt, barbecue seasoning, all-purpose seasoning, etc. Arrange in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 425º F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir once in a while as the fries bake. Serve with ketchup or a creamy dressing like vegan ranch.
Water chestnut substitute: Swap in for water chestnuts in Asian salads and stir-fries. Jicama retains crunchiness even when cooked for several minutes.
Roasted vegetable medleys: Add bite-sized slices to any combination of roasted vegetables, baked in a 425º oven. Try adding some to Balsamic and Maple Roasted Vegetables.
Chile-lime snack: Cut peeled jícama into sticks. Top with freshly squeezed lime juice and sprinkle with chile powder and salt.
Colorful appetizer: Cut peeled jicama into thin slices; if large, cut into quarters. Top each with small spoonful of fruit salsa, such as mango salsa.
Taco or tostada garnish: Toss peeled, diced jicama with lime juice, chopped cilantro, chile powder, salt, and pepper. Add diced cooked carrots or finely shredded red cabbage, if desired. Use as part of filling or topping for tacos and tostadas.
Grill it: Brush 1/2-inch-thick slices lightly with olive oil and cook on a hot grill or grill pan, 3 minutes or so per side or until you get those nice grill marks.
Crunchy salads: Stir peeled, diced jicama into salads combining fruits and vegetables. Deliciously compatible with tender greens and oranges.
Slaws: Add a small amount of grated or matchstick-cut jícama to your favorite coleslaw recipe.
Jicama and mango or papaya salad: Combine an equal amount of coarsely grated or matchstick-cut jícama with slightly underripe mango or papaya, cut to match. Flavor with a little orange juice and orange zest, olive oil, cider or wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Fruit salad or platters: Because jícama has a mild sweetness, it can be a surprising element added to fruit salads or cut fruit platters.
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