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Meet jicama, the humble tuber that deserves a spot on your plate.
Jicama (HEE-kah-ma), sometimes referred to as yam bean, Mexican turnip, or Mexican potato, is an edible root vegetable native to Mexico. In Central America, jicama is often sold by street vendors and commonly eaten raw, and seasoned with lemon or lime juice and chili powder. In the United States, however, jicama is less common and may intimidate home cooks who've never tried it. But there's no need to fear this tasty, nutrient-dense tuber—jicama's mild flavor and satisfying crunch lends it to a myriad of culinary uses. Here's everything you need to know about jicama, plus delicious and easy jicama recipes.
What is Jicama?
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The vines of the jicama plant can grow up to 20 feet in length, but the leaves and seeds are actually toxic. The root is the only edible portion of the entire plant—the tough brown skin that gives way to juicy, white flesh on the inside. The flavor is sweet and starchy—think of a cross between a water chestnut and an apple.
Many call jicama a superfood, equating it with kale, acai berries, and quinoa. Jicama, along with sunchokes, packs a prebiotic called inulin, a big contributor to a healthier gut. In addition, jicama is rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. Lastly, jicama is naturally low in calories, making it a smart starchy substitute for those watching their weight.
How to Buy Jicama
Find jicama year-round in the produce section of most supermarkets and Latin American markets. Select firm, dry jicama roots. The skin should not appear shriveled, bruised, or blemished. Once purchased, keep jicama unpeeled in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How to Cook with Jicama
To prep jicama before cooking, remove the skin with a vegetable peeler, then cut the white flesh into cubes or strips with a sharp knife. No need to worry about oxidizing—jicama does not brown or become soggy after cutting. Slice raw jicama into batons for crudité platters, salads, and even sushi rolls. Quick-cooking methods such as grilling or stir-frying allow jicama to maintain its crispness—try tossing it in a wok full of veggies or mark it on the grill for char.
Now that you know how to use jicama, try these top jicama recipes:
Kale, Jicama, and Orange Salad
This salad is brimming with color and texture from juicy citrus, creamy avocado, and crisp jicama. Dark, bumpy kale fits the mood, but you can substitute any lettuce you like. We love the pink hue of Cara oranges in the salad, but regular navel or even blood oranges would also work. (View Recipe: Kale, Jicama, and Orange Salad)
Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas with Jicama Slaw
These spicy tostadas are safe to serve to even the pickiest of eaters. If you've got young ones who can't handle the heat, leave the spice rub off their chicken breasts before cooking. One serving of this fast Mexican dinner is a hearty two tostadas, and the serving of jicama slaw on each tostada is gracious; serve with a side of grilled corn or a tomato-avocado stacked salad. (View Recipe: Spicy Chicken and Black Bean Tostadas with Jicama Slaw)
Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia Sandwiches with Jicama Slaw