A long time ago, my mom brought home this bulbous root vegetable she had just picked up at the local grocery store. She said she wasn't sure what to do with it, but she knew it was called jicama, and she thought it looked interesting.
Jicama has also been referred to as a Mexican potato and a Chinese turnip. It is native to Central and South America, where it is a staple of many diets. It had previously been cultivated by various Mesoamerican civilizations, and was introduced to the Philippines in the 17th century by the Spanish. From there, it was taken to China and Southeast Asia. It was also a shipboard staple as it was easy to store, was thirst quenching and could be eaten raw.
Jicama has a crisp, nutty sweet taste, similar to that of a pear. Other parts of the jicama plant can be poisonous, in particular the seeds, so make sure to avoid them. Jicama is a wonderful source of vitamin C, with 100 grams providing 20 milligrams of the nutrient, which is helpful for maintaining healthy clear skin as well as proper eye functioning. One cup also provides 12% of your daily recommended allowance of fiber, which is helpful for normalizing bowel movements.
Here is a recipe for Pear and Jicama salad, courtesy of Martha Stewart.com:
Pear and Jicama Salad
Prep time: 7 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1 lime
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pear, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
- 1 small jicama (about 12 ounces), peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
- Cut peel and pith from lime. Slice lime along membranes to release segments, and reserve segments.
- Whisk lime juice and oil in a medium bowl, and season with salt and pepper. Add pear, jicama, and cilantro, and toss to combine. Fold in reserved lime segments, and season with more salt if desired. Serve immediately.
Photo: Martha Stewart.com