Vegan Grandma

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Spicy Vegan Jicama Sticks, and a Few Interesting things about Jicama

I bought jicama in the supermarket today. It’s been years since I’ve eaten jicama, so I thought I’d try it in a salad. I made the following recipe instead of using it in a salad. I had forgotten how good jicama is. It was great.

Jicama [HEE-kah-mah] is a large, bulbous root vegetable with a thin brown skin and white crunchy flesh. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and is good both raw and cooked. Here is a very simple vegan way to prepare jicama. It’s from Vegi-Mex Vegetarian Mexican Recipes, by Shayne & Lee Fischer, published by Golden West Publishers, page 14.

Spicy Vegan Jicama Sticks

1 medium-sized jicama
garlic salt
chili powder
cayenne pepper

Wash and peel jicama. Cut into sticks or chips and rinse in cold water. Drain and sprinkle lightly with seasonings, using cayenne sparingly. These make good appetizers on a relish tray.

A Few Interesting things about Jicama

The jícama is a species of Pachyrhizus, a legume native to tropical and subtropical Central America. It is cultivated for its edible taproot. Other common names for the jícama include sengkwang, Mexican potato, Mexican turnip, Mexican yam bean, ahipa, saa got, Chinese turnip, lo bok, and the Chinese potato.

It is a popular dietary staple in Latin America and widely grown in Mexico and Central America.
In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.

The root's exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles that of a raw potato or a water chestnut. It can be used in the place of water chestnuts. The thin skin should be peeled just before using.

Jicama ranges in size from about 4 ounces up to 6 pounds. Usually the smaller they are, the less woody the flesh.

The flavor is sweet and starchy. The crisp white interior flesh tastes like a delicious cross between a water chestnut and an apple.

Jícama is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavor comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide), which the human body does not metabolize; this makes the root an ideal sweet snack for diabetics and dieters.

Jicama contains a high amount of vitamin C, is low in sodium, and has no fat. One adult serving of jicama, which is equal to approximately 1 cup of cubed jicama or 120 grams, also contains only 45 calories.

Jicama can be found in most supermarkets and in Mexican markets. It is available year-round.
When purchasing jicama, select tubers that are firm and have dry roots. Make sure that the jicama has an unblemished skin and that is not bruised.

Jícama should be stored dry, between 12 degrees C. to 16 degrees C. (53 F. to 60 degrees F.); colder temperatures will damage the root. A fresh root stored at an appropriate temperature will keep for a month or two.

Jicama does not discolor when exposed to the open air. Because of this, raw jicama is often used with raw vegetable platters.

When jicama is used in cooking it tends to take on the flavors of the other ingredients, therefore, it blends well with many vegetables and seasonings in stir-fry dishes. Jicama can be steamed, baked, boiled or fried. When cooked briefly, it retains its crisp, water chestnut-type texture.

Jicama is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon juice, and powdered chile, or in salads, or raw with a spread of olive oil, paprika, or other seasoning.


Vegi-Mex Vegetarian Mexican Recipes, by Shayne & Lee Fischer, published by Golden West Publishers
World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey, published by Clarkson/Potter Publishers, New York


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