We love jicama for its slightly sweet crunch and ease of prep—just cut it into matchsticks for crudités or sprinkle on some chili powder and lime. But there's more to these porous roots than meets the eye. Here are five ways to use jicama from chefs around the country, all worthy of becoming kitchen mainstays.
A Simple Dessert
Soulayphet Schwader is the chef/owner of the Michelin-recognized Khe-Yo, the first fully Laotian restaurant in New York City.
Growing up, we treated jicama as a fruit. My mom would peel it, cut it into cubes, put it in ice water in the fridge, and it would be our dessert. That may be weird, but that's how I ate it. There's always a big Mexican crew in my kitchen, and one of their favorite combos is jicama with lime juice, cayenne, and Cholula hot sauce on it. It's their snack—if I have jicama in house, that's how we're all snacking on it.
A Boozy Infusion
Thiago Silva is the pastry chef at EMM Group's Catch in New York's Meatpacking district. He is a 2015 Dessert Professional Top 10 Pastry Chef, and recently won the Food Network's Chopped, donating his winnings to C-Cap (Careers for Culinary Arts Program).
I got involved with jicama when we opened La Cenita in New York, and I was looking to use more Mexican ingredients in my desserts. I often make a citrus salad to go with sorbets, and wanted to give one a bit more texture and flavor. So I cut jicama into little cubes, Cryovac'd them to compress them, and then infused them with booze and spices. I basically made a poaching liquid combining cinnamon, allspice, star anise, and Chambord liqueur—heating it enough to infuse the the spices while not cooking the alcohol out—and then let the jicama sit in that for about 24 hours. So you'd get this salad of navel oranges, blood oranges, and pink grapefruit with chiffonades of mint, and then these unexpected crunchy bites full of a whole lot of flavor.
Add it to Ceviche
Classically trained in Italy, Amalia Scatena uses refined Mediterranean techniques, seasonal ingredients, and local products at her Charleston newcomer Cannon Green.
Jicama is awesome. I wouldn't do really anything other than the obvious—serve it raw. It pairs really well with ceviches, especially sweet Peruvian ones that include sweet potatoes and corn. Jicama is a really great complement for that, so if you're a ceviche fan, try out adding some small-diced raw jicama to whatever you're making.
Make a Jicama Taco Shell
At Moderne Barn in Armonk, NY, Ethan Kostbar cooks new American cuisine with influences from his travels through the Middle East and Europe.
I always have jicama at the restaurant. I do taco shells with them, shaving them very thin and filling them with avocado, salsa, and a seafood like tuna. The inspiration came from the Latino cooks in so many kitchens across the United States. Whenever they see jicama, they gravitate to it and use it in so many ways, especially for family meal.
I've seen them cut it with a knife and then add fresh-squeezed lime juice, cilantro, and chipotle or cayenne. The inspiration was that they're almost eating it like a taco. They want acid and heat, and they love cilantro, so we played with shaving jicama on the deli slicer, then rolling it up with whatever ceviche or crudo we had on hand.
French Fry It
Dmitry Rodov inherited his love for the culinary arts from his father, attending the Ukranian Culinary College before moving to New York and continuing at the French Culinary Institute. As the Executive Chef of Duet Brasserie, Rodov focuses on "home cooking, beautifully presented."
Jicama fries are easy and delicious. Julienne them to french fry size, boil them for three or four minutes tops to soften them, dry them out, and deep-fry them. Because of their high water content, you want a shorter fry, and your fryer has to be at 400 degrees to get them crispy. Then toss them in pungent spices like harissa.