Pronounced “HEE-kah-mah,” jicama enters the U.S. culture as both a vegetable and a fruit-like opportunity. A member of the legume family, it has nicknames like Mexican potato, yam bean root, and yam bean. It looks like a large, sometimes several pounds, oval potato with an excellent complexion. We eat the root; the rest of its plant is poisonous. Its crunchy, white flesh — visually resembling a raw potato – has a mild flavor which punches up with Mexican or Asian condiments. It’s probably most unique for its juicy, cleansing, crunchy texture similar to a fresh, juicy pear, apple or water chestnut.
Though the Spaniards introduced the jicama to Mexico and further to the Philippines, it didn’t take long to travel to China, Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Though the unusual root fit in well with Latin American condiments, it soon adapted to become a favorite with the Asian and Indian peoples, their condiments and local foods. Continue reading