8.09.2013

INTRODUCING THE JICAMA ROOT



You've probably seen jicama once or twice in the grocery store and thought, "Man is that thing ugly! I wish I knew what to do with it!" Well here I am to save the day and tell you a little about this crazy root.


Jicama is mostly used in Mexican and Asian cooking and can be eaten raw or cooked. It is sometimes referred to as the "Mexican Yam" or "Mexican Turnip".


When you peel the papery exterior you will find a creamy white crisp interior that resembles a potato. In fact, most people describe jicama's taste as a cross between a potato and an apple. (So yes, many people eat jicama plain and raw the way it is.)


I remember visiting Mexico as a kid and seeing jicama sold on the side of the road. It was usually cut in bite-sized pieces, mixed with tropical fruit, then sprinkled with chili powder and lime juice. (Basically a fruit salad.) They call this "Pico de Gallo." (Not to be confused with the other "Pico de Gallo" made from tomatoes and cilantro.)


Jicama's taste is very neutral, so I decided to make a simple salad. Start by cutting your jicama into matchsticks. (This is known as "julienne" in the food world.) Okay, so you could really cut it however you like (diced, shredded...), I just happened to choose this shape.


Mix the jicama with some dressing and put it on the plate.


Top it with sliced oranges and strawberries. (Make sure to remove the seeds from the oranges!)


Then add some greens that you've also tossed in your dressing. Spinach would work nice. (I chose arugula because I like the peppery taste.) Finally, add some chopped pistachios on top. (And for even more flavor and richness, add some cheese like fresh ricotta or queso fresco.)


Okay, now I have to tell you a little secret. When I was preparing this recipe I did something really stupid. I stuck my chef knife straight in the jicama (not thinking), and it got completely stuck!!


If this ever happens to you, get a hammer and carefully...VERY CAREFULLY hit the jicama with the hammer until the knife comes out. (PHEW. Almost lost a finger with that one. Good thing I thought of the hammer.)

JICAMA SALAD WITH CILANTRO ORANGE VINAIGRETTE
(serves 4-6 as a side salad)

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons cumin powder
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or another neutral oil like canola)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste (about a pinch of each)

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. (Or if you don't have a blender, simply combine all ingredients in a small sealed container and shake until mixed well.)

FOR THE SALAD
1 medium sized jicama, peeled and julienned
1 bunch spinach, chopped
4 oranges, peeled and sliced
1 cup strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup queso fresco or fresh ricotta

Combine all ingredients in a bowl or platter and toss with vinaigrette.

2 comments:

  1. Awesome! We love jicama, ill have to try the salad, it looks fab!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Really? A hammer? You didn't want to just swing the knife around until the jicama flew off? That's probably what I would do. Good thing I read your post!

    ReplyDelete

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