Vegetable of the week: Pachyrhizus erosus

In a dream, you are standing at a bar. You don’t know if you want a margarita or a bloody mary. But all they have are pears. “Where is this all going?”, you ask yourself. A man sidles up to you and opens his coat; “what you want, my friend, is one of these here Jicamas”.
To finally round out the root vegetable theme and move on out into the glorious waters of the rainbow of produce, we have the jicama.
Pachyrhizus erosus. Pachyrhizus means thick root in greek. That pretty much covers it.
Here’s a jicama for y’all to ogle:

Not a pretty picture to be sure, notĀ prepossessing in the slightest. But you dress it up, maybe put some rouge on it, and you got you a snack going.

Jicamas come from Mexico, sweet land of color and chili. They are the root of a plant that desperately wants to poison you, but forgot to make its roots not-delicious. A fatal error! I guess maybe it thought that the visual would put people off, but no!

To continue the theme of names being confusing as hell, jicamas are often known as yam beans (what does that even mean? a yam bean?), and as Mexican turnips, which I am more on board with.

Usually, people wander up to a jicama, skin it, slice it and then season it. The best is when you squeeze lime juice over the slices (cut kind of like fat fries), then add salt and hot sauce. The jicama tastes like the child of a night of love between a gigolo-ous potato and a promiscuous pear. A wild and pleasing combination. When you add the seasonings, it is like a chili fries, just without the feeling like someone snuck 100lbs of lead mud into your innards. It is like being reborn of fresh, tangy, zappiness, jicamafied!

This is what it looks like:

I guess people also grate them up (after skinning) and put them into salads, fruit salads, soups, dips. Pretty much anything where a crisp, crunchy, slightly sweet lightness is to be desired. And when isn’t it?

Jicamas, according to, are insanely filling and nutritious (most times the tubers we eat are just filling, I am speaking about you potato!) and are packed full to bursting with vitamin C, and a slew of nice metals (potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron). Check it:

Next up, fruit! No more tubers-masquerading-as-fruit! But seriously, jicamas are good stuff!


~ by maoctopus on January 6, 2011.

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