Also known as the yam bean
or Mexican turnip
, jícama (Pachyrhizus tuberosus) is a vine
native to Central
and South America
with an edible tuberous root (a la
). A member of the legume
family, the jícama vine can grow up to twenty feet tall and its roots can weigh up to fifty pounds, but are usually between three to five pounds when sold commercially.
Available year round, the root itself has a crispy, white flesh and is rather juicy, the juice either clear or white, depending on subspecies. Somewhat bland, raw jícama is usually added to salads or doused with lime juice and powdered chilis and eaten as a snack. The seeds of the jícama are sometimes eaten as well, but mature jícama seeds contain the toxic chemical rotenone, which is used as an insecticide. A 3½ ounce serving of jícama contains approximately 40 calories and supplies about 25% of the U.S. RDA of vitamin C. Jícama is a street food in its native habitat, like Italian sausage on the streets of New York City.