, commonly known as jícama
, Mexican yam, or Mexican turnip, is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant's edible tuberous root. Jícama is a species in the genus Pachyrhizus in the bean family (Fabaceae). Plants in this genus are commonly referred to as yam bean, although the term "yam bean" can be another name for jícama. The other major species of yam beans are also indigenous within the Americas.
Flowers, either blue or white, and pods similar to lima beans, are produced on fully developed plants. Several species of jicama occur, but the one found in markets is Pachyrrizus erosus. The latter has an elongated root and milky juice. The agua form has a top-shaped to oblate root, a translucent juice, and is the preferred form for market.In cooking
The root's exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples or raw green beans, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes. Jícama is often paired with chili powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, orange, red onion, salsa, sesame oil, grilled fish, and soy sauce. It can be cut into thin wedges and dipped in salsa. In Mexico, it is popular in salads, fresh fruit combinations, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes. In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.
Jícama Spaniards spread cultivation of jícama from Mexico to Philippines
, from there it went to China and other parts of Southeast Asia, where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah, fresh lumpia in the Philippines and salads in Singapore and Malaysia such as yusheng and rojak.
In the Philippines
, jícama is known locally as singkamas and usually eaten fresh with condiments such as rice vinegar and sprinkled with salt, or with bagoong (shrimp paste).
Jícama has become popular in Vietnamese
food as an ingredient in pie. It is known by its Chinese name bang kuang to the ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia.
, it is called man pao. Here it is a lot smaller and tastes a little sweeter than the Mexican type. It is used as a snack by peeling off the outer layer of the skin, then cutting into bite sizes for eating like an apple or a pear.
, jícama is known as bengkuang. This root crop is only known by people in Sumatra and Java. Mostly they eat it at fresh fruit bars or mix it in the rujak (a kind of spicy fruit salad). Padang city in West Sumatra is called "the city of bengkuang". Local people might have thought that this jícama is the "indigenous crop" of Padang. The crop has been grown everywhere in this city and it has become a part of their culture.
Jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavor comes from the oligofructose inulin which is a prebiotic. Jicama is high in vitamins C, A, and some Bs, along with calcium and phosphorus.
Health benefits of Jicama:
Jicama is very low calorie root vegetables; contains only 35 calories per 100 g. However, its high quality phyto-nutrition profile comprises of dietary fiber, and anti-oxidants, in addition to small proportions of minerals, and vitamins.
It is one of the finest source dietary fiber and excellent source of oligofructose inulin, a soluble dietary fiber. The root pulp provides 4.9 mg or 13% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie, sweet inert carbohydrate and does not metabolize in the human body, which make the root an ideal sweet snack for diabetics and dieters.
As in turnips, fresh yam bean tubers are rich in vitamin C; provide about 20.2 mg or 34% of DRA of vitamin C per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant that helps body scavenge harmful free radicals, thereby offers protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.
It also contains small levels of some of valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and thiamin.
Further, it provides healthy amounts of some important minerals like magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.
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