There is an old Muppet sketch that goes something like this …. (for full effect read it with a Groucho Marx/Fozzy bear kind of voice while using a carrot as a cigar)
“Do you know how hard is it for vegetables to break into show business?”
“Yeah, when we first started out, the audience used to throw people at us!”
(wocka wocka wocka!)
Imagine how hard it must be if you are a unique looking character
actor vegetable? Surrounded by all the brightly coloured “pretty” vegetables it must be easy to be ignored. You work hard, you do your job, but no love. For the average cook, the good thing about many of these vegetables is you can get them for cheap. A lot of value for a little money.
(insert commentary on film industry here….)
I seem to have taken a bit of a shine to odd vegetables lately. Sunchokes, kale and most recently, jicama. Jicama is a funny vegetable. Sometimes called yam bean root, it’s one of those vegetables that I know I’ve had before, and have certainly read recipes that incorporate it, but it has only been lately that I’ve introduced it to my kitchen on a regular basis.
Jicama is one of those vegetables that if it was on a talk show it would be lauded for being an “overnight success” even though it had been working professionally for decades. It is a starch that is low in calories, and high in fibre, Vitamin C and antioxidants. Despite it’s unattractive (and unedible) exterior it has a crisp and juicy interior (similar to an asian pear or a water chestnut). It is edible raw or cooked with the added bonus that it stays crispy when cooked (which makes it perfect for stir fry recipes!).
Whenever I start experimenting with a new ingredient I always try to start simple and healthy. In this case that meant a salad. Since I seem to be on a kick for slaw type salads lately first up was a cabbage and jicama slaw. As with all of my recipes it is still a work in progress. I’ve tried different oils and acids, added various toasted nuts and seeds, and added other grated vegetables (carrots and sprouts). To date I’ve eaten it as an accompaniment with beef, chicken and fish. I’ve also tried it as a main course adding some chickpeas. A hunch tells me it would work well in a sandwich (like a bánh mì) or with ribs or other barbeque type fair, but I haven’t had a chance to try that yet. Although I’m not a big fan, I bet it would also work with tempeh or grilled tofu. This recipe is what has worked it’s way to the top of the pack as the base for all variations.
Let me know what you think and if you’re an experienced jicama lover please send me your recipes. While the Academy might not recognize this great vegetable until lifetime achievement awards roll around, it doesn’t mean we can’t! Enjoy!
- 1/2 jicama, peeled and chopped into small matchstick size pieces
- 1/3 cabbage chopped into similar size slices
- 1/2cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup olive oil (adding in a bit of sesame oil works nicely too and adds a nice nutty taste)
- juice from 1 lime
- sea salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chop all vegetables and put in bowl.
Shake or whisk together all ingredients for vinaigrette.
Pour dressing over vegetables.