Jicama is a sweet and crisp turnip like vegetable that is edible and a common ingredient in the Mexican cuisine. Though this sweet vegetable looks like turnip, it does not belong to the same family; in fact it belongs to the legume or bean family. Jicama is known by other names as well such as Mexican potato, Mexican yam bean, ahipa, saa got, Chinese turnip, lo bok, and also Chinese potato. This tubular edible vegetable is native to South America and is generally added to Mexican jicama dishes such as salads, salsas and even vegetable platters. The brown coarse skin of the vegetable needs to be peeled before the white fleshy part of jicama can be used for cooking.
Jicama that grows to size of 7-8 inches is ideal for culinary use and a vegetable this size generally weighs around 1.3 to 2 kilograms. If it grows beyond this size, the sweet flavor turns to starch and starts tasting woody, which is not edible and cannot be used for culinary purpose. There are two types of jicama – ‘agua’, the water type and ‘leche’, the milk juice variety. Some popular jicama recipes are Beef, Snow Pea and Jicama Salad, Jicama Shiitake and Scallop Stir-Fry, Grilled Jicama, etc. If one is looking for a low in starch and calorie option, then the answer is jicama.
Nutritive Value of Jicama
The right temperature to store jicama is around 53 degrees to 60 degrees F. At this temperature, the roots can keep for one to two months. Very cold temperatures can damage the vegetable.
Jicama is considered as one of the four elements that are used for the “festival of dead”, which is celebrated by Mexicans on 1st of November every year. The other three elements are tangerines (from eastern Asia), sugarcane (from southern Asia) and peanuts (from Bolivia). During this festival, “jicama dolls” are prepared from paper.