Tuesday, February 24, 2009

No.35: Jicama

Note: This week's jicama has been requested
by Anonymous!

Surprisingly sweet & crunchy, jicamas have a unique flavor that lends itself well to salads, salsas, and vegetable platters!

1. What does jicama taste like? Some say its flavor lies between that of an apple and that of a water chestnut. Sometimes they can be used to substitute chestnuts, an appreciated quality of this vegetable is that
it remains crisp even after cooking!

2. The milk jicama (jicama de leche) produces a milky juice unlike the water jicama (jicama de agua) and interestingly, both types can grow from the same seed.

3. The roots can sometimes grow to be quite large, although when they exceed the size of two fists, they begin to convert the sugars that give jicama its sweet flavor into starches, making the root somewhat woody to
the taste.

4. As mentioned, except for the root, the jicama plant, for the most part, is not edible,
but that does not mean that its other parts are not useful. The seeds in the pod contain a series of compounds that make an effective insecticide (the toxin rotenone), and they can be used as such when they are pulverized. The seeds are also used in some dermatologic preparations. The stalks, on the other hand, yield strong fibers that can be used in making fishing nets.

5. When choosing jicama at the store, look for medium sized, firm tubers with
dry roots.
Do not purchase jicama that has wet or soft spots, which may indicate rot, and don't be drawn to overlarge examples of the tuber, because they may not be as flavorful. Jicama will keep under refrigeration for up to two weeks.

NOTE! I had no idea jicamas are one of the main ingredients in a popular Malaysian treat called popiah (one of my fave snacks) as they go by a different name, here jicamas are called sengkuang! My foray into vegeland is certainly growing more interesting by the day! :D

Reference: Wikipedia, Do Unto Others Project, Fun with your food, IDPH, eons


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lynn! Jicamas are so delicious. When I studied abroad in rural village in China, we ate them raw from the ground after peeling the skins. What a refreshing treat! It's like a crisp, juicy potato!

BracLynn said...

Thank you for introducing me to it! I would've never had guessed it had such a lovely Mexican name grin*

That sounds superbly fresh, have never had them raw before! Maybe I shall try one in that fashion when I next chance upon it!

Karl said...

I've never tried this raw. I stayed with a family in Taiwan where this was often mixed with other vegetables and some fresh ginger (my favorite was with asparagus). I think it was called dou4shu3, but I forget the characters.