Monday, July 7, 2008

Jicama Week

Oh, jicama. Jicama week fell victim to the "I'm more preoccupied with buying silverware for my new apartment to later consume jicama with than actually eating jicama" syndrome. Instead, this post will be mostly a conglomeration of jicama "fun facts" with only a few ideas on its use that I can vouch for first hand.

First of all, I can see why jicama is a good salad fixing. It has the crispness of a potato (which I'm not a fan of) and the sort of juiciness of a pear (which I do like). It adds a certain freshness to any salad. Normally, I am of the "vegetables that crunch should be promptly and unceremoniously souped" school of thought, but jicama has a most enjoyable texture. I found some ideas for some interesting salads which I would have liked to experiment with except that up until yesterday I had nary a pot to cook in. One such idea was a shrimp, pineapple, and jicama salad. Doesn't that just sound like summer? I could eat that on the beaches of Cancun (though for more practical purposes I would likely eat it here in my new apartment).

Jicama is apparently popular in Vietnamese food, but apparently not at those restaurants I've been to because I can't remember coming across is knowingly. Apparently, jicama, sometimes called the Mexican Potato or yam bean, is 86-90% water. Imagine that! Also, while the root is a delectable addition to summer salads and soups, the vine contains a toxin that is used to poison insects and fish. Okay, that should reach my "fun fact" quota.

As for the jicama I did eat (and enjoyed, I must say). I had some raw with chili powder and lime. Surprisingly, the lime juice took on the dominant flavor and I didn't really taste the chili powder. The telltale crunch and lime flavor was an enjoyable summer treat. I also had some cooked jicama courtesy of one of my friends from Mexico City. She grated it and cooked it with sugar and vanilla and cinnamon. There may have been other things involved in this, but I can't remember then. At any rate, it was an interesting contrast to have a sweet jicama dish which in the end resembled something sort of like apple sauce but with more texture and tasting less like apples.

I think for next week I'm going to try something that will be a personal challenge. I have always disliked potatoes above most things, and have never seen a need to change that because I get plenty of starch in my diet. However, it has come to my attention that there is a nutritional advantage to sweet potatoes or yams, so I think I will tackle those.

Next week: yams!


Anonymous said...

I am so glad you are continuing your blog! I was afraid you were daunted by the wierdness those veggies you haven't tried -- and kitchen constraints.

Best thing to do with yams is bake (microwave) and eat with butter. I don't go for the sugar/marshmallow versions. However, you might try a pie -- I think you could just treat it like pumpkin. (Only don't expect it to taste the same).

Since you may have texture issues, you might want to try oven-roasting. Cut up as for fries, toss with oil and bake in a shallow pan at 400? stirring often.


Susan Thompson said...

Baking and eating with butter sounds delicious. If you choose to go the sweet route, you might try maple syrup and pecans.