Saturday, July 23, 2011

Trying Jicama

In my quest to find a suitable substitute for potatoes I've tried using several different veggies as replacements in my favorite potato dishes.  Most turned out acceptable, delicious even, but none of them truly tasted like their real potato counterparts and therefore were always lacking a little.  And then I stumbled across the jicama!

What an amazing vegetable it turned out to be.  I had to Google it to find out what it even looked like so that I would know what to look for at the grocery store.  My best description of a jicama is that it is the love child of a potato and a turnip!  I had never paid attention to this vegetable before.  I imagine I always walked right past it to grab a sack of potatoes or carrots before.  However, this will from now on be a veggie I pick up whenever I find them at the store.

I've seen many recipes calling for jicama, most of them were salads using it raw which never sparked my interest.  However when I found a recipe on Food Network's website for jicama matchstick fries, I finally had a reason to give this veggie a try.

The first thing I did was peel and slice the jicama.  I recommend a very sharp knife and being super careful!  I was a little worried I might lose a finger or hand because this baby was pretty darn tough to peel!  The peel is much tougher than that of a potato and seemed thicker too than the peel of a turnip.  Slice off the root end to give yourself a flat base to rest on your cutting board.  That makes it very easy to slice the rest of the jicama.

When I finished slicing it up into thin wafers, I stacked a few of the wafers at a time and sliced them into thin matchstick like pieces.  I was prepared for this to take quite awhile as I have made sweet potato matchsticks many times in the past and those suckers are hard to cut through!  However once you get through that tough peel off the jicama, this is actually a pretty soft juicy vegetable.  Raw it tastes sweet, almost like an apple or a pear which is no wonder I saw it listed in so many yummy salad recipes.

I used a paper towel to pat dry all the matchsticks once they were cut.  Then it was time to preheat the oil and  prepare the seasoning.  If you have a deep fryer, I'm sure that would work great for these, but since I don't I just used a big thick skillet.  I used the same seasoning that I used to put on my sweet potato matchsticks which simply consists of ground black pepper, seasoned salt, and nutmeg.  You could also add a little cayenne if you like a kick to your fries.

I fried them in batches.  I think mine took at least 4 batches for 1 full jicama.  Be careful when placing these in the hot oil because there seems to be a good amount of moisture in this veggie.  I like to put a handful on a big slotted spatula (or a spider if you have one) and lower it down gently into the oil.  This is also the best way for removing them too.

Pictured here on the left is the first batch done and draining on paper towels (minus all the ones I taste tested).  On the right is a picture of all of the matchsticks once they were done.  I toss the seasoning on each batch as they come out of the oil, and I kept them warm in a 200 degree oven while I finished frying the rest.

I really enjoyed these jicama fries.  They don't seem to get as crispy as typical potato fries, but they were quite yummy.  The kids both ate them, and Gray has refused on more than one occasion the turnip fries I've made.  They remind more more of "onion straws" that I've seen several restaurants serve as a garnish on steaks or burgers than fries but were still very much what I was looking for to pair with a nice bacon cheeseburger for dinner.

I will definitely be trying out some more recipes with this awesome veggie.  And for anyone interested, a half cup of raw jicama is only 2.5 net carbs!  I already have ideas for how to turn this into cinnamon apples or even apple pie and to try a few more variations on fries or hash browns.  I believe jicama is truly a more versatile food than a potato and am so glad I finally gave it a try!  I hope you all will give it a try to if you've never had it before, and if you have please share your favorite jicama recipes!

1 comment:

  1. I love jicama raw, and I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the idea of cooking it. But, I will try it cooked soon--if we don't eat it all raw before I get around to it.