All About Jicama: Foodie Guide for 2023
When you’re tired of the same old carrot and celery sticks for your healthy afternoon snack, it’s time to get introduced to jicama. Jicama is a root vegetable widely available in grocery store produce sections. It looks like a giant turnip with light-brown skin. It can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked. You’ll get the satisfying crunch you’re looking for plus tons of healthy benefits to go with it.
What does jicama taste like? How do you work with it? Jicama is very simple to prepare. It has a mild flavor, so it pairs easily with other foods from fruit to spices to meat. Jicama is also relatively inexpensive compared to pre-sliced celery and carrots, so it makes a good swap if you are working toward saving money on groceries. Let’s take a look at how to approach this unique and versatile ingredient.
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What Is Jicama?
Jicama, pronounced HICK-kuh-muh, is a root vegetable. It’s technically part of the bean family, but think about it more like a turnip or beetroot than a bean. Jicama root is generally round, though sometimes you’ll find oblong versions on the shelf. The size varies from something like a softball to pieces as large as a cauliflower. Other common names for jicama are Mexican potato, Chinese turnip or Mexican bean.
Jicama is grown in warm climates where it never freezes, so it’s usually from Mexico or South America. The root must be peeled before it’s eaten. You’ll normally find jicama cut into julienne slices and served raw in salads or as a slaw-like topping for meat dishes and soups. In Mexico, jicama is commonly served as a simple street food tossed with lime juice and chili seasoning.
Bags of sliced jicama are a refreshing snack on a hot day. But this healthy snack can be enjoyed raw and plain just as easily.
What Does Jicama Taste Like?
What does jicama taste like? It’s very mild in flavor. Some people describe it as slightly sweet with a subtle nuttiness. The crunch factor is somewhere between a pear and a water chestnut. If you’re familiar with daikon radish, it’s similar but more firm.
Is Jicama Healthy?
If you want to learn how to start eating healthy, jicama just became a key tool in your toolbox. One of the best things about switching to jicama for your afternoon snack is the health benefits that come with it.
Jicama is low in calories. It’s mostly carbohydrates with a little bit of protein and fat. Jicama is a significant source of fiber (1 cup has 6.4 grams of fiber) which we can all use more of. One cup of jicama also provides 44% of the RDI of calcium, a powerful mineral for our bodies.
Based on its nutritional profile, a diet that includes jicama can be beneficial for heart health, digestive health and weight loss. The antioxidant properties may also help prevent cancer.
Ready to slice into this healthy snack? Visit the produce section of your grocery store and select a jicama root that is firm and evenly colored. Avoid jicama that looks dehydrated or has dark spots on the skin.
Jicama must be peeled, but the skin is a bit tough for your standard potato peeler. Using a hefty knife, slice a piece off of the top and bottom so you can lay it flat on a cutting board. Carefully slice the skin off from top to bottom, working your way around the root a little at a time.
Jicama can be stored out of sunlight for about a week on your counter. Otherwise, peel and slice jicama and store it submerged in water in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
How to Eat Jicama
Jicama can be eaten plain and raw. You’ll usually find jicama julienned so it can easily be tossed with other ingredients. Because it is pretty mild, a squeeze of lime juice and a light dusting of chili powder does wonders.
Jicama is often used in salads and is sometimes the main ingredient. It is commonly combined with sliced fruits like apples and mango. It also makes a great slaw served over pork or chicken. Jicama sticks are great snacks to leave out for guests who graze.
If you want to try cooking your jicama, baking is your best bet. Jicama is a healthy alternative to potatoes when you are craving french fries or chips. A cooking class led by a world-class chef is the perfect way to gain confidence cooking this versatile vegetable, whether it's through cooking classes in NYC or cooking classes in Calgary. Browse cooking classes near you for the right fit.
Jicama isn’t much to look at on the shelf, and it’s easy to pass up products when you’re not sure how to approach them. Grab a jicama root next time you are in the store and do some experimentation. You’ll be surprised at how easily it fits into your meals and wonder how you ever lived without it.
For even more ways to explore your favorite foods, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.