How to Eat a Pomegranate
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Some foods are just plain intimidating, and I’ve historically counted whole pomegranates among them.
Unlike other fruits, whose edible flesh lies directly under the skin, a pomegranate’s edible part is actually the hundreds of little juice-filled …

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Home » Foods you're probably not eating but totally should be, GFF (Gluten-free friendly), Viva Mexico!

Jicama sticks

Submitted by on May 30, 2009 – 3:19 pm9 Comments
 
Muy refresco

Move over, baby carrots. There's a refreshing new pre-dinner munchie in town.

No offense to baby carrots and hummus, but sometimes I get tired of serving them as my default appetizers when guests are around.  Don’t get me wrong: it’s a healthy combo, and a super-convenient one at that.  But inspired it is not.  I used to wonder what people in other countries served to their guests with cocktails during a casual dinner party.  Fortunately, I had occasion to find the answer to my question in January 2008, when I scored an invitation to weekday family dinner at the home of a professor at the Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla (UPAEP) in Puebla, Mexico.

On the coffee table, our hostess had placed a platter of sliced jicama that had been tossed in lime juice and sprinkled with a bright red chile powder.  It was so simple, and so addictive.  It put baby carrots with hummus to shame.

All about Jicama

Jicama is the tuberous root of a legume plant that has the crunchy, watery texture of a water chestnut, raw potato or Asian pear.  Its mild flavor is tinged with an everso slight sweetness,which is courtesy of our favorite prebiotic fiber friend, inulin. (To refresh your memory about the health benefits of inulin, check out my previous postings on Jerusalem artichokes and chicory root, other great

Look for the large turnip-looking brown thing in the produce department

Jicama is the large turnip-looking brown thing in your local produce department

food sources of inulin.)   The crisp, watery texture of raw jicama is so summery and refreshing, which makes it a fantastic addition to salads and slaws.  Nutritionally, 1 cup of sliced jicama has a mere 46 calories, and 11g of carbohydrate (of which 6 huge grams are fiber) and 30% of the daily value for vitamin C.  (This means that 1 cup of jicama actually has 5g of net carbohydrate, in case you are diabetic on a carbohydrate-controlled diet.)

If you’ve never worked with jicama before, there are only two pointers I can offer.  One: If you’re not using it right away, do not refrigerate it (Jicamas don’t like the cold).  Just store it at room temperature. Two: the only annoying thing about jicama is having to peel it.  I’ve wrestled a jicama with a vegetable peeler before, but have found that cutting the jicama into quarters and using a sharp knife to shave the stubborn skin off along the silhouette worked way better.

Recipe: Jicama sticks with lime and chile

1 jicama, peeled

Juice of 2 limes

Sprinkle of your favorite chile powder*

* Note: the most authentic way to season your lime-tossed jicama sticks would be with a Mexican condiment called Tajin, which is a chili-lime-salt powder designed specifically for fruit and jicama seasoning.  (I checked the ingredients and it’s gluten-free.)  You can order it online through the link I’ve provided.  Otherwise, you have a few options.  You can take a dried guajillo chile (or any medium-heat dried chile), stem it and seed it, and grind it up in a food processor or mini coffee-grinder.  If you have a favorite ground chile powder lying around the pantry, like an ancho chile powder, that’d be swell, too.  Personally, I wouldn’t use the American version of chili powder (the stuff we use for actually making chili)… its flavor is a bit too heavy for this.

All you have to do is cut the jicama into sticks, toss them in a bowl with the lime juice, and sprinkle it all with some chili powder to taste.  Easy!

If you want to take this concept from appetizer to a slightly more substantial summer salad, check out Tyler Florence’s recipe for Jicama and Mango salad with Chile and Lime.

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9 Comments »

  • I was just thinking that I need to be more adventuresome with vegetables and jicama came to mind… good for salads or snacking.

    Rebecca

  • Mayra says:

    Hi, you know they sale Tajin in some local stores. I have seen it in most food stores, you just have to go to the mexican section, like were the brand Goya is at. I love Jicama!

  • Michelle G says:

    I have just started including jicama in my food service it is such a hit. For all you gluten free people like myself, check out my food service totally free of gluten, sugar AND dairy. Simple Clean Food Plan.
    Thanks for the tips – i love that these look like fries! great nutrition info!

  • Abby J. says:

    Cucumbers are also great when prepared this way! However, they’d be less of a finger-friendly party food than jicama on account of the juice. I love Tajin on orange slices and nicely ripe yellow mangos. Have you tried the Valentina brand chili powder? It has more of a lemon taste to it, so I like it more on certain fruits and veg and Tajin on others.

  • Tamara says:

    I have not tried Valentina… sounds like you are far more “seasoned” (ha ha) in this practice than I am! Love your idea of serving cukes, mango and orange this way!!

  • Alexia Sinclair says:

    These, Jicama sticks are odd. But they are really good. They just have a very unique taste. They served it at my school yesterday in little bags kind of like baby carrot bags. They were really good though. Everybody at my table tasted a stick and went up to get there own bag. I will try it with lime juice and chilly powder. :) yum yum.

  • Candy says:

    Be careful not to keep jicama too long until they become too fibrous. They are best not too old with minimum fibrous threads. Most of the time, I eat skinned jicama whole and raw. I have tried Tamara’s recommendation of enjoying it with lime and chile powder – love it! My personal favourite is incorporating jicama into a salad of fresh pineapple, cucumbers sprinkled with chopped fresh chillies, onions and lime juice.

  • Tiffanie says:

    I’m from sunny Southern California and my step-father introduced this snack to me as a child. He used line, salt, and PAPRIKA and it is yummy!!

  • Trevor says:

    Why aren’t there any cooked recipes for jicama? Does it remove all the nutrients? I was thinking it would make interesting mexican fries.

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