Jicama (pronounced hickama) is a legume, a relative of the bean family. It is a popular dietary staple in Latin America and widely grown in Mexico and Central America. There are many names for Jicama including: the Mexican potato, Mexican yam bean, ahipa, saa got, Chinese turnip, lo bok, and the Chinese potato.
Jicama looks similar to a turnip or a large radish, and it can be used as an alternative to the water chestnut. Its skin is thin and can be gray, tan, or brown in color. Additionally, it has a short root and contains white flesh. The skin is typically peeled before eating it raw. Raw jicama tastes similar to a pear or apple. It also does not discolor when exposed to the open air for awhile. Because of this, raw jicama is often used as an accompaniment to raw vegetable platters. When jicama is used in cooking it tends to take on the flavors of the ingredients that it is being combined with. Therefore, jicama is a nice complement to various stir-fry dishes because it blends well with many vegetables and seasonings.
Jicama is a very versatile vegetable that contains a high amount of vitamin C, is low in sodium, and has no fat. One adult serving of jicama, which is equal to approximately 1 cup of cubed jicama or 120 grams, also contains only 45 Calories.
Jicama is available year-round. When purchasing jicama, select tubers that are firm and have dry roots. Make sure that the jicama has an unblemished skin and that is not bruised. Once purchased, store jicama for up to two weeks in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.