What is a jicama? A relatively unknown root vegetable, the jicama is common here on the Big Island of Hawaii. With its flaky brown skin and crispy, white texture, the jicama has a unique flavor that tastes like a cross between a potato and a pear!
Pronounced (hee-kah-ma) the versatile vegetable has its origins in Mexico and Central America. It’s now found throughout Asia as well as here in Hawaii.
The jicama plant itself is mostly toxic. The vines of the plant can grow up to 20 feet in length. The root of the plant is the only part of the vegetable that is edible. The rest of the plant including the skin remains toxic, so make sure you peel it well! But don’t let that scare you, the crunchy flesh is a great addition to everything from salads to stir fries.
Are jicamas a superfood?
The jicama is seen by many as a superfood since it’s so nutrient dense. The nutrient profile of the jicama is packed with vitamin E, calcium and zinc. Its high in fiber, a great source of vitamin C, and contains that all-important beta carotene! It also contains inulin, a prebiotic that helps with maintaining gut health.
Fun fact: The jicama is also known as water chestnut, Mexican potato and yam bean.
Where to find them
Make trying a jicama part of your Big Island experience! We bought ours from the Hilo farmers market, but you’ll be able to find them at most farmers markets around the island.
Look for firm, dry jicamas. Make sure the skin isn’t bruised and that the vegetable isn’t old and shriveled. Jicamas keep well – after they’ve been peeled they’ll last in the fridge for approximately two weeks. Make sure to keep them wrapped in a container or a plastic bag.
How to eat jicamas
Jicamas can be eaten raw or they can be cooked. First, remove the brownish skin – either cut or peel from the vegetable. Then chop into cubes, slices, or even grate. You’ll find the consistency much like that of a potato, with a kind of watery starchy texture as you cut into it.
We used ours as a topping on a burrito and also chopped up in a salad but there lots of creative ways to cook with jicamas. Don’t worry about oxidation – once you cut into a jicama, the vegetable won’t brown.
Fun fact: In Central America they are often eaten raw – cut into slices, chilled, then drizzled with lemon/lime juice, sprinkled with chilli powder and a dash of salt!
Be creative with jicamas!
Add jicamas to your diet in these creative ways
As an ingredient in your favourite fruit salad – works well with pineapple, mango and papaya
As a snack – cut into slices and then served with guacamole
Use in your favourite vegetable stir-fry
Cut into thick French fry-sized pieces (half an inch by half an inch), toss with olive oil and your favourite spices, and then bake on a cookie sheet in a hot oven! Jicama fries!
Some great jicama recipe ideas
Kale, jicama and orange salad
Spicy black bean burritos with grated jicama
Toasted chicken sandwiches with jicama and red cabbage slaw