Jic-a-what? Let’s begin with the pronunciation, it is hee-kama. Jicama is a round, hard, watery root vegetable with Mexican origins — in fact the word “jicama” is a (Mexican) Spanish word. Though it was first discovered in what is modern day Mexico, jicama can now be found across other Central, South and North American countries as well as across many Asian nations.
Other names used for jicama are: Mexican yam, Mexican turnip, Mexican potato, ahipa, saa got, Chinese turnip, lo bok and Chinese potato.
Jicamas have a very tough and fibrous outer skin that MUST be peeled completely off. (Never eat the skin or plant parts because they are toxic.) Once the hard outer skin is removed a crisp, white and watery vegetable is revealed. The scent and taste are both very mild. Some describe the taste as a tad sweet but it really depends on where the jicama was grown. Jicama is very high in dietary fiber, has 86-90% water content, contains Vitamins C, A and calcium and phosphorus. Because of it’s high water content this makes it an ideal summertime or hot weather food to help you keep hydrated.
Across Asia, jicama is eaten both raw and cooked. In Mexico you will only find it eaten raw. Mostly you’ll find Mexicans eating jicama as a snack and with freshly squeezed lime juice and chile powder. The chile powder that is most often times used is called tajin. The tajin is a very popular condiment used for sprinkling over fresh fruit snacks and/or drinks like michelada beer cocktails. This fruit seasoning is made with three simple ingredients: ground chile peppers, salt and lime — a ubiquitous trinity of Mexican cooking.
For me, juicy pieces of jicama drenched in fresh lime juice and sprinkled with tajin seasoning is among the very best snacks one could have. The calories are low, the flavour is high and all that juiciness really helps to keep you hydrated and cool. Needless to say that since I live in perpetual summer, this jicama snack is a must — and now that summer is arriving to the rest of the Northern Hemisphere I know you will all appreciate it too.
There is no recipe for this snack. All you do is pick up a firm jicama at your grocery store or farmer’s market, wash it throughly, peel off the rough outer brown skin, slice it or dice it or cut it into long stick pieces, squeeze fresh lime juice over the pieces then sprinkle as much tajin as you’d like. If you don’t have a bottle of tajin in your house then simply use your favourite ground chile powder and add some sea salt too.
The last and most important step is to enjoy your snack…and don’t forget to drink the leftover red juice, some would argue that the snack would not be complete if you skip this step. I know once you taste it, you’ll make it your favourite summertime snack. Enjoy and have a beautiful day!