Jicama (pronounced HEE-kah-mah) is a tuberous root native to Mexico and Central America. It is also called Mexican turnip, yam bean, or singkamas in Filipino.
It is a round root vegetable with a beige-brown, papery skin belonging to the legume family. Its interior is white, with a crisp and juicy texture similar to a water chestnut or Asian pear. The flavor is subtle and slightly sweet.
Is jicama healthy?
Jicama is a low-calorie superfood that is high in fiber and water, which helps with digestion and weight loss. It's also packed with antioxidants—like vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and dietary fiber—which can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
It is a good source of potassium, folate, magnesium, iron, and copper for heart health and circulation. It contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that supports healthy gut bacteria and reduces the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Studies show that eating jicama can lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and keep you feeling full for longer.
However, while the root is safe to eat, the rest of the plant is poisonous. The seeds contain a toxin called rotenone, which is used to kill insects and fish.
How to buy
Choose a jicama that feels firm and heavy for its size, with no soft spots. The skin should be smooth without cracks or bruises. The smaller ones have papery skin and tend to be sweeter, while the larger ones tend to be woody and dry.
How to store
To keep jicama fresh, store it unwrapped in a cool and dry place. You can also refrigerate it for 2 to 3 weeks. Do not peel it until ready to eat.
Once cut, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a week. Dispose of it right away if there are any indications of spoilage, such as mold, discoloration, or soft spots.
How to prepare
Wash it thoroughly before consumption. Because it grows in the ground, its roots and skin may contain toxins.
Step 1: Cut off the top and bottom roots using a sharp knife.
Step 2: Cut it in half to make it easier to handle, creating a flat surface that allows it to sit firmly on a cutting board.
Step 3: Carefully peel the skin using a vegetable peeler or with your fingers if the jicama is young and fresh.
Step 4: Slice or cut it into sticks, depending on your preference.
Jicama can be eaten raw or cooked. You can eat it plain with sautéed shrimp paste (bagoong alamang), use it in salads, or incorporate it into other dishes.
Filipino recipes with Jicama (Singkamas)
Though jicama has a mild flavor, it adds texture and freshness to dishes. Here are some Filipino favorites:
- Jicama Salad: A refreshing salad with julienned jicama, carrots, and other vegetables made with a vinegar-based dressing.
- Singkamas Achara (Pickled Jicama): A quick pickle made with jicama and carrots soaked in vinegar, salt, and sugar. It is similar to Achara (Pickled Green Papaya).
- Lumpiang Sariwa (Fresh Spring Rolls): Fresh, unfried version of lumpia filled with stir-fried vegetables wrapped in crêpes or thin pancakes. They are topped with crushed peanuts and served with a sweet garlic soy sauce.
- Lumpiang Gulay (Fried Vegetable Spring Rolls): Crispy, fried spring rolls wrapped in lumpia wrappers filled with stir-fried vegetables and served with a spiced vinegar dipping sauce.
- Lumpiang Shanghai (Fried Spring Rolls): Crispy, fried spring rolls filled with ground meat, sometimes with jicama as an extender, and served with a spiced vinegar dipping sauce or sweet chili sauce.
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- Cutting board
- Wash it thoroughly before consumption. Because it grows in the ground, its roots and skin may contain toxins.
- Cut off the top and bottom roots using a sharp knife.
- Cut it in half to make it easier to handle, creating a flat surface that allows it to sit firmly on a cutting board.
- Carefully peel the skin using a vegetable peeler or with your fingers if the jicama is young and fresh.
- Slice or cut it into sticks, depending on your preference.