Extra Helpings: Jícama


Yoly asks: What is jícama? You used it in a salad last month, and I guess it’s a vegetable, but I don’t even know what it looks like!

Mama is soooo glad you asked because I wonder how many other readers want to know the same thing! It’s not like jicama is something you always have on hand… well, I don’t anyway.


First of all, it is pronounced HEE-ka-muh, or HIC-cuh-muh. Now, let’s move on.

I’ve heard people refer to jícama as a “Mexican potato,” probably because both are root vegetables, very firm and brownish-tan in color on the outside and pearly white on the inside. But really, the resemblance stops there.

Jícama is shaped like a big turnip. After peeling, it is usually eaten raw because it’s flesh has a radish-like juicy texture and is crisp and crunchy with a delicately sweet, nutty flavor. You can also cook with it because it holds its crunch a lot longer than a potato.

Look for jícama that has a smooth, unblemished thin skin (scratch the skin: it should be almost papery and peelable with a spoon). It should be solid and heavy for its size. Store it on the counter for a day or two, otherwise keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks. Wrap cut pieces tightly in plastic wrap.

Now the good stuff: Jícama is great to eat if you are dieting. It’s low in calories, high in Vitamin C, fibrous and has a huge water content so it fills you up. If you’re like me and like to “snack” while you’re cooking dinner, it’s great to have jícama sticks to munch on (drizzle with a little lime and sprinkle with some chili powder and salt).

Jícama is one of those “go-to” vegetables: cube it and add it to chicken salad; slice it into “chips” to go with dips; cut it into batons for a crudité platter; big chunks hold up well in stews and soups.

If you’ve never tried it, next time you’re at the grocery store, look for it and give it a try… and let me know what you think!


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: mamashighstrung@gmail.com