Jicama is a tuber that can weigh up to 5 pounds. It has a mild, sweet texture similar to a water chestnut. When peeled, it adds a nice crunch to salads or is delicious as an appetizer served raw and sprinkled with lime juice and salt. In Mexico, they also add hot chilies with the lime and salt. Though jicama is often served raw, it can also be cooked; the flesh soften a bit but will stay fairly crisp and juicy. Select jicama that are heavy and firm with unblemished skin.
Jicama is a crispy, sweet, edible root that resembles a turnip in physical appearance, although the plants are not related. Jicama has been cultivated in South America for centuries, and the vegetable is quite popular in Mexican cuisine. Jicama has a unique flavor that lends itself well to salads, salsas, and vegetable platters. The roots can sometimes grow to be quite large, although when they exceed the size of two fists, they begin to convert the sugars that give jicama its sweet flavor into starches, making the root somewhat woody to the taste.
Selecting and Buying
Preparation and Use
Jicama is excellent raw and is sometimes eaten plain. It can also be used as a substitute for water chestnut in Chinese dishes, in which case it should be thrown in right before serving. Jicama also appears in stews, juiced drinks, stuffings, and a variety of other recipes. In addition to having a unique flavor and texture, jicama takes flavor well, making it well suited to culinary experimentation. Jicama is a great source of vitamin c and is fat free—making it a superb on-the-go snack.
Conserving and Storing
Jicama will keep under refrigeration for up to two weeks.
Jícama should be stored dry, between 12°C and 16°C (53°F and 60°F); colder temperatures will damage the root. A fresh root stored at an appropriate temperature will keep for a month or two.