May 22, 2015

Jicama: Ways to use this underrated vegetable

Add jicama to your salad spring rolls and enjoy with a peanut butter or fish sauce.

Add jicama to your salad spring rolls and enjoy with a peanut butter or fish sauce.

As a student of Austin culinary arts, you have likely come across jicama. This root veggie originates in Mexico and grows best in warm climates like Central America and is often used in Hispanic dishes. To find a good-quality jicama, locate one that is round and firm. Store it in a cool, dark place when it is whole and in the refrigerator after it’s been cut. There are some awesome farmers markets around Austin that sell fresh jicama that you can use to make these excellent dishes:

Jicama fries
Most people make french fries out of sweet and regular potatoes. Jicama, however, is actually a healthier vegetable to use for this purpose. While all three of these options are starches, jicama also contains oligofructose inulin, which has no calories and helps your body to absorb calcium. It also promotes the growth of good bacteria in your intestine and colon. For a better-for-you version of french fries, Shape Magazine suggests cutting up a jicama like you would a potato, sliced into long strips. Toss the fries in warm liquid coconut oil and add chipotle and onion powder, paprika and salt and pepper. Toss the fries so the seasonings spread evenly and then bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. These are great for parties where people of various diets plan to dine – they’re gluten-free, vegan, low-sugar and paleo.

Jicama salad
Lettuce gets boring and is expected when you are asked to bring a salad to a backyard party. Switch things up a bit by making this jicama salad by Baked Bree on tablespoon. The author recommends using a melon baller to cut tiny sections of watermelon, and adding it to diced mango and jicama. For a dressing, use cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and red wine vinegar with some added black pepper, cayenne, cumin, honey and chili powder. The kick of the dressing plus the sweetness of the fruits makes for a very interesting and tasty salad.

Coleslaw
Blogger Life Tastes Good includes jicama in her version of of pickled vegetable slaw. If you’ve ever had Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, you will love this slaw. It’s perfect for tossing on a hearty bun and adding pulled pork. She recommends using a mandoline to julienne carrots and jicama. Then, place the veggies in a mason jar or other container that can withstand high amounts of heat during the pickling process. Next, combine sugar, salt and white vinegar in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar and salt over medium heat. Add the mixture to the vegetables and shut the lid. At a minimum, let the mix pickle for one hour. You can eat it then or let the picking process continue overnight for a more intense vinegar flavor. Allow the jar and contents to fully cool before placing it in the refrigerator or it may break.

Salad rolls
Most grocery stores and cafes have caught onto the salad roll sushi trend. Instead of filling rice paper wrappers with raw fish, you can make an easy-to-eat salad complete with jicama, lettuce and carrots. These little rolls make great appetizers for parties and barbecues and are great to take to work or school for lunch. You can put whatever kind of veggies you want in them, just keep in mind that you’ll need to be able to roll the rice paper up, so don’t overload it. Finish off the salad roll by using the burrito-wrap method (fold the sides in and then roll it shut) and dip in a peanut butter Sriracha sauce to spice up your tasty, healthy rolls.