Jicama is one specie in the genus Pachyrhizus, plants in this genus are commonly referred to as yam bean, although the term “yam bean” can be another name for Jicama. The other major species of yam beans are also indigenous within the Americas. Jicama has been cultivated in Mesoamerica for centuries, and the vegetable is quite popular in Mexican cuisine.This unusual root vegetable was introduced to the Philippines and Malaysia in the 17th century. It has since spread throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Jicama vine can reach a height of 4-5 metres given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2 m and weigh up to 20 kilograms. (The root is the only edible portion of the plant, though; its leaves and seeds contain a mild toxin.) The flavoris sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder.
Attempts so far to grow it in California hasn’t turned out well, as the season is not long enough for sizable tuber growth. It is imported into North America from Latin America, primarily Mexico, where there are three main growing areas that produce Jicama timed to hit the markets at different seasons. The central highland area of Mexico, including Guanajuato, produces an autumn harvest; the Morelos area produces a winter harvest; and the Nayarit area produces crops for winter and spring harvests. According to The Nutrition Almanac by John Kirschmann, it is high in beta-carotene, B complex, vitamin C, calcium, iron, and potassium. Because jicama does not brown or become soggy after cutting, it makes a nice addition to crudité platters and salads. But it also appears in stews, juiced drinks, stuffings, and a variety of other recipes.
Some people laugh at the name of the Jicama. A few, however, said it’s a seriously ugly vegetable. I know, she may be imperfect, but she still tasty! Jicama’s rough skin is not very appealing, but you have to peel or slice that away to reveal a delicious white flesh that has a slightly pear sweet flavor. One of my fondest childhood memories is waking up at Grandma’s house to the smell of frying bacon, (she used to cooked with the stuff) and the Jicama crepes. She knew it’s my favorite dish (not to mention the Jicama and Mango salad with chile and alguashte (Pumpkin seed flour); I used to go with her to the “farmers” market and get all the ingredients. I miss my grandma! So here are two recipes from my collection. Enjoy them with those who gather at your table.
Mango and Jicama Salad
*Via: Chef Rachelle Boucher*
*you can find her delicious recipe here:http://chefrachelleboucher.com*
4 ripe mangoes (apx. 2½ pounds), peeled and sliced into ½” thick wedges
1 medium jicama, peeled and sliced into ¼ ” thick wedges
1 large jalapeno, seeded, stemmed and finely chopped
3 green onions (green parts only), thinly sliced
Zest of 1 lime
½ teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons lime juice or more to taste
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, coarsely ground
¼ cup cilantro leaves, plus extra sprigs for garnish
1. Add all ingredients into a bowl and toss.
2. Add pepper to taste. Add more lime juice and salt if needed.
3. Add extra cilantro sprigs for garnish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to chill and blend the flavors. Serve with grilled meats, fish or poultry.
Jicama Peppery Rocket Salad
2 cups Jicama, peeled then julienned
3 peeled seedless oranges, segments
4 oz Wild Rockets leaves
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper.
Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and toss until thoroughly blended. This can be made a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Simple, Quick and Delish!