Deutsch: Jicama / Español: Jícama / Português: Inhame-mexicano / Français: Jicama / Italiano: Jicama

Jicama is a tuberous root vegetable native to Mexico and Central America, often referred to as Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip. It is part of the legume family and is grown for its crisp, sweet-tasting, edible root.

Description

The jicama plant can grow up to several feet in height, but it is primarily cultivated for its root, which resembles a large brown-skinned turnip. The skin is thin and fibrous, while the inside is creamy white with a crunchy texture similar to that of a pear or raw potato. Jicama is most commonly eaten raw, though it can also be cooked. It has a sweet, nutty flavor, making it a popular addition to salads and vegetable platters.

Application Areas

Jicama is used in a variety of culinary contexts:

  • Raw in Salads: Its crisp texture and mild flavor make it an excellent ingredient in fresh salads.
  • Cooked in Dishes: Although less common, jicama can be cooked—stir-fried, roasted, or boiled—where it retains much of its crunch.
  • As a Snack: Often eaten raw, sprinkled with chili powder, salt, and lime juice.
  • In Salsas and Dips: Diced jicama adds a refreshing crunch to salsas and can be a healthy addition to dips.

Well-Known Examples

Some dishes that include jicama are:

  • Jicama Slaw: A crunchy, fresh salad typically made with jicama, cabbage, carrots, and a sweet vinaigrette.
  • Mango Jicama Salad: Combines jicama with mango, cilantro, and sometimes red pepper for a sweet and spicy flavor.
  • Jicama Tacos: Uses thinly sliced jicama as a low-carb taco shell filled with traditional taco fillings like grilled meats and vegetables.

Treatment and Risks

Jicama is a nutritious and safe food to eat with a few considerations:

  • Edible Parts: Only the root of the jicama plant is edible; the rest of the plant, including the seeds and leaves, contains rotenone, a natural insecticide that is toxic to humans if ingested.
  • Dietary Fiber: Jicama is high in dietary fiber, which is beneficial for digestion but can cause digestive disturbances if consumed in large amounts, especially for those not used to high-fiber diets.

Recipes

Here are simple recipes to enjoy jicama:

  • Simple Jicama Slaw:
    • Ingredients: 1 large jicama (peeled and julienned), 1 carrot (peeled and julienned), ½ red bell pepper (thinly sliced), ¼ cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons honey, 3 tablespoons lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste.
    • Method: Combine all vegetables in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat. Chill before serving.
  • Jicama Chips:
    • Ingredients: 1 jicama (peeled and thinly sliced), olive oil, smoked paprika, salt.
    • Method: Toss jicama slices in olive oil, paprika, and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 400°F (200°C) until crispy, about 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Similar Terms

  • Tuber
  • Root vegetable
  • Mexican yam bean
  • Edible root
  • Crunchy vegetable

Summary

Jicama is a versatile root vegetable known for its unique crunchy texture and sweet, nutty flavor. It is a refreshing addition to a variety of dishes, from salads and salsas to snacks and side dishes, providing both nutritional benefits and culinary diversity.

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