Ingredient Spotlight: Jicama

We always have one or two of these bulbous brown roots in our fridge when the temperature outside starts creeping up. They don't have to be cooked and their crisp, apple-like texture is a welcome addition to our salads. Do you like jicama too?

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We used to have trouble finding jicamas, but most grocery stores now keep them regularly stocked along with their other South American and Latin fresh produce. They look somewhat like turnips in shape, but the skin is brown and papery. We like smaller tubers about the size of a fist the best. We find that they're sweeter and less starchy-tasting than larger roots.

To prepare a jicama, all you have to do is peel off the skin. The flesh inside is white and firm, and it can be sliced into cubes, sticks, or slivers. Trim off any brown spots before slicing, but there are no seeds or core to remove.

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As we mentioned, we love adding jicama to salads. It adds a refreshing crunch and a subtly-sweet flavor that's similar to cucumber. Diced into small cubes, we can add jicama to homemade salsas. Larger sticks of jicama and a bowl of dip also make an excellent snack. We have even added cubes of jicama to quick stir-fries as a substitute for water chestnuts.

What are your favorite ways to use jicama?

Related: Cooking by Feel: Latin American Flavors and Ingredients

(Images: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)