Originally posted July 14, 2012. Updated June 2015.

Jicama is a strange looking root vegetable that some grocery store shoppers may look at, frown at...and then walk past. To me, jicamas are the diamonds in the rough of the produce section. Discovering the fresh, crisp flavor of this visually unattractive vegetable can be compared to picking up a rock and finding it’s filled with precious crystals. Once you get past its rough exterior, you’ll find there is delicate and subtle sweetness that’ll keep you coming back for more.

When I was looking up information on this unique vegetable, my trust resource Wikipeida informed me of the following: The jicama is one species in the genus Pachyrhizus and is closely related to the rhubarb family. It is also referred to as the Mexican Yam or Mexican Turnip and is a native Mexican vine but the name most commonly refers to the plant’s edible tuberous root.

Nutritionally, jicama is low in calories yet filling and satisfying because of its high fiber and high water contents. It has the crunch of an apple and the texture of a raw potato. The mild, sweet flavor comes from fructo-oligosaccaride which also happens to be a prebiotic (“friendly” bacteria to our gut). For some added zing, jicama is often paired with chile powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, orange, red onion and even soy sauce. I pair this with carrot in my Carrot and Jicama Slaw recipe.

To get this vegetable ready to serve, you can cut it into sticks or you can shred it and serve it in a salad. I like to eat it plain but I also love it with some fresh lime juice and chili powder. Here is a simple way to get this “diamond in the rough” out of the store and onto your plate in a flash.

Step 1: Lay the jicama on its side and use a Chef's knife to slice off the tip and bottom parts (the root and tip). This gives the bulbous root vegetable stability on the cutting board, allowing you to have control over slicing off the rest of the rough & tough peel. This process is similar to cutting the thick peel off of a cantaloupe or honeydew melon. 

Step 2: Once the top and bottom parts are off, sit the jicama on the board and start slicing off the peel from top to bottom. The peel will look like thick ribbons of white, potato-like pulp. When the entire peel is off, it'll look similar to a large, peeled potato. 

Step 3: With a tight grip on the jicama and your knife, forcefully slice through the center. Dense ones are hard to crack open while others have a higher fluid content and break open with more ease. Nevertheless, don't lose control over the knife or the vegetable.  

Step 4: Turn one half of the jicama "face down" on the board and slice this part in half. Slice pieces into sticks. I find this is the most convenient way to eat it--like you'd eat carrot and celery sticks! 

Step 5: Continue cutting jicama into sticks and lay them down in a shallow dish. If you have an extra watery jicama, lay down a single paper towel underneath the sticks to help absorb the extra fluid. Now you're ready to eat it as a snack or with a meal.