The jicama is affectionately referred to as a "yam bean," “Mexican potato” or “Mexican water chestnut,” all nicknames that are nods to its origins and vegetal resemblance. This large, uninteresting-looking root vegetable possesses a surprisingly crunchy, white edible interior that has a pleasant sweet and nutty flavor. While jicama is most commonly eaten raw as a snack or atop fresh salads, you can also cook it; it even retains its crisp texture when cooked briefly.
Use this “Mexican water chestnut” in lieu of traditional water chestnuts in your favorite stir-fry. Add a small amount of oil to a wok or large cooking vessel and heat over medium-high heat until it's almost smoking. Add jicama along with any other stir-fry vegetables and cook until tender but still crisp, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Customize stir-fry to suit your preference by adding ingredients like shredded carrots and cabbage, bell peppers, onions, asparagus, mushrooms and more. Use meats and seafood like pork, chicken, beef, shrimp, crab or cuttlefish. Alternatively, substitute tofu instead of meat.
Saute jicama if you’re looking for a side dish that you can prepare in just minutes. Add a small amount of oil to a skillet and heat until hot but not smoking. Add jicama to the skillet, stirring frequently. Cook it until it's slightly translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Sauteed jicama is delicious by itself, but saute it with other vegetables, such as celery, green beans, broccoli and spinach for even more flavor. Season the dish with garlic and onion, lemon juice, salt and pepper or fresh herbs like parsley.
Bake jicama like the potato it resembles. Puncture the jicama skin with a fork and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 45 minutes or until it's softened. Cut the baked jicama in half and top with traditional baked potato toppings like butter, sour cream, chives, shredded cheese and bacon crumbles.
Serve jicama if you’re looking for a suitable substitute when mashed potato cravings strike; it's lower in carbohydrates than its potato twin. Simply peel and chop jicama into similar-sized cubes. Add jicama to cool water and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer it until it's softened, approximately 15 minutes. Drain jicama and mash with traditional mashed potato ingredients like butter, milk, salt and pepper.
- Jicama can be found in the produce section of many grocery stores or in Latin markets, year-round.
- Select firm, dry jicama that are free of blemishes.
- Unpeeled jicama can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Before you begin cooking, ensure you have all of your ingredients prepped and the utensils you will need ready. Stir-frying is a quick-cooking process, and you can easily overcook the food.
- Cooking with a wok creates smoke, so turn on a fan or open a window prior to cooking.
- The exterior skin of the jicama is inedible.
Christina Kalinowski is a writer from the Twin Cities who began her career in 2011. She contributes food and drink related articles to The Daily Meal. She holds a Master of Arts in sociology from Purdue University.