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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