Ingredient Introduction #2 – Jicama

This new-found ingredient exploration has me rooting for roots.

After loving the rutabaga, I went for jicama (hick-uh-muh).

This spinning top-like bulb is the edible root of a Mexican vine. It’s also known as a Mexican turnip or Mexican potato.

I first heard of it on the Food Network, and I’ve since seen it in the produce section of the grocery store.

A peeler can’t crack the rugged skin. You have to use a knife to chop off both ends, and then carve down the sides of the root.

Inside, there’s a wet vegetable that, in my opinion, is a cross between a potato and an apple.
My partner in cuisine crime said he felt it was a cross between an apple and an onion.

It’s crunchy, and very sweet (the smaller the jicama, the sweeter the flavor), but there’s a kick of flavor that you wouldn’t expect. You might consider it a bit nutty. It also reminds me of a water chestnut.

You can eat it raw. In fact, that’s the most popular way to serve it. Cut it into hunks and have it with dip. Or, slice and dice it for a salad topper. You can also cut it into match sticks and make a slaw. That’s what I did.

I mixed it with Greek yogurt (hello, protein), minced chipotle peppers, lime juice and zest, honey, and garlic. If you let it sit, the jicama will soften up a bit.

We put it on top of a pulled pork taco. The flavor was lost, but the crunch was exceptional.

Since it acts as a potato, I decided to make chips with it… Or try to make chips.

Using a mandoline, I sliced them almost paper thin. I lined ’em up on a rack, sprayed one side with cooking spray and sprinkled on some spices.

I tossed ’em in a 450 degree oven and let ’em go. The ones that didn’t burn, stuck to the rack and never crisped up. Crap.

I bought another, smaller, jicama and tried it again.

This time, I used the ridge blade on my mandoline (I love Ruffles), I sprayed both sides with cooking spray and seasoned both sides with garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. After 25 minutes, the tiny chips burned, and the bigger ones were still soft. After 35 minutes, the chips were getting there, but didn’t quite make it.

I bought a 3rd jicama, got rid of the rack, and roasted the chips on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. At 350 they burned. Lowering the temperature didn’t help either.

Jicama, 1. Ingredient Explorer, 0.

The fact of the matter is that the (edible) chips were delicious, and the seasoning was wonderful. What’s even better is that the natural sweeteners of the jicama played off the spice mix perfectly.

My advice, go raw. Make a slaw. Toss it with a vinaigrette.

The jicama is worth trying. The flavor and texture are great. Plus, it gives you a good amount of fiber and vitamin C. It’s fat-free, and has only a few calories.

Right now, I’m rooting for a new ingredient.

Tip: Explore your supermarket’s special request and sale sections. It’s fun to see what other customers want. Sometimes the products are foreign. Most of the time they’re items you’d only find in a specialty shop. The clearance section is a good place to find high-end foods that aren’t selling. You get a good deal, and the store gets shelf space. This isn’t necessarily a place for out-dated or expiring items!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Mary Lu Saylor says:

    You are a man who doesn’t give up! Good info, I will have to give that I one a try.

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