Jicama (Pachyrhizua tuberosus) can be seen advertised as Saa Got, Ahipa, and Mexican Yam, and got its start in the world at the head waters of the Amazon in South America. The Spanish conquistadors brought it to the Philippines in the 17the century, where it became a favorite crop of Chinese gardeners who then spread through Asia and the Pacific. Pronounced “Hee-ka-mah,” the Jicama is the fleshy tuber of a leguminous plant that also produces above ground pea pods.
The roots, vines, beans and mature pods are poisonous; however, the immature pods are crunchy, juicy, versatile and add a sweetness to salads, fruit cups, stir fried vegetables or soups. All that is required in preparation is the peeling of its thinnish, sandy-tan skin.
Eaten raw, or cooked, Jicama is rising in popularity thanks to a growing Oriental and Mexican population, and can be found year round in Latin and Chinese markets. While low in sodium and calories, Jicama adds crunch and high-water content to whatever it is added to, but must be peeled for all uses. Pick Jicama that has an easily scratched-off, thin skin, and a creamy, juicy flesh. Use for appetizers, desserts, main dishes. Stored at room temperature, Jicama will keep for weeks if uncut, and is particularly useful at absorbing the flavors of the plants that it is cooked, marinated or stewed with.