Featured Ingredient — By Ben on 08 July 2008
Jicama, another humble Mexican ingredient

jicamaI am glad to see that a lot of ingredients with which I grew up in Mexico are getting international recognition. Some of them are tomatillos, Poblano peppers, tamarind (this is not a native Mexican ingredient, but it is very popular down there), nopales and, lately, jicama.

What is Jicama (hee-kah-mah)? The name jicama comes from the Nahuatl Xicamatl and it is also known as yam bean, Mexican potato and Mexican turnip. Although Jicama is a vine, the name commonly refers to the edible tuberous root of the plant.

The crop is cultivated in frost-free climates, grown in rows from seeds, and within a year this vine is harvested for its large taproot. To eat jicama, only the fibrous brownish peel must be removed. The rest of the plant, a legume with trifoliate leaves, is thrown away since, in contrast with the root, is poisonous. The flavor of the taproot or tuberous root is mildly sweet that tastes and crunches like a crispy water-chestnut (Trapa).

Jicama can be eaten in raw salads, although in Mexico the ivory-colored flesh is marinated with lime and then served topped with chili powder. Another way this root is eaten is fried but, although delicious, this is a less healthier way to enjoy it.

1 cup (100 gr) of raw, sliced jicama is an excellent source of vitamin D (24 mg) and also contains:

Calories: 46
Protein: 0.86g
Carbohydrate: 10.6g
Total Fat: 0.11g
Fiber: 5.8g

Jicama is a staple food in Mexico and it is very refreshing in hot summer days. Next time you are at the grocery store, look for this humble tuberous root. I am sure this crunchy legume will not disappoint you.

Buen provecho!

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About Author

grew up around food. His family owned a restaurant in Mexico City and he spent a big deal of his childhood helping and learning after school the art of creating delicious dishes from simple ingredients. He created this blog to share his kitchen adventures with the world.

(12) Readers Comments

  1. I have yet to buy this and try. Im sure I have had it, but never really realized it.

  2. I’ve only had this once..in a ‘trendy” LA eatery..done in a Asian slaw!…It was crunchy but the slaw had so much going on I can’t really remember the distinct taste of it. I have to see if I can find this here in Sydney.

  3. Poisonous top and such a sweet root! Food is amazing!
    Love jicama (and the name).

  4. I tried Jicama once last year…reminded me of an Asian pear (liked it).

  5. I’m intrigued with marinating it in lime and having it with chili powder–that sounds good!

  6. Thanks for this wonderful post and all the information given. It’s the first time I’ve heard of this and I doubt if we’ll see it in the Greek markets but who knows I might see it in the menu of a Mexican restaurant and then I’ll know what this is.

  7. Ever since I first tried jicama in the late 70s, I’ve loved it. It’s a wonderful root.

  8. I have never had Jicama but it sounds interesting. I will have to look for it to try.

  9. here in the Philippines, we call it “singkamas”. Jikama is abundant during summer seasons here and we just eat it raw and just peel off the skin, then cool a little in the ref. Good to eat specially during hot weather because it’s watery and at the same time crisp esp. when cold. I love eating it with a little salt or with bagoong (sauteed shrimp sauce).

    We also use it as extender for spring rolls. yum!

  10. I recently came across a salsa recipe using this root in a cookbook … now I know what it is :)

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