Try Jicama for a Twist on French Fries

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Jessica Goldman Foung)

If I had to pick one food to eat for the rest of my life, it would be French fries. I love everything about them — the crisp crunch, the shape, and, most importantly, the “dip-ability.”

But as I’m sure you already know, French fries aren’t exactly on the top of the superfood list. And while they are super easy to make at home, with or without oil, I’m always on the lookout for other options that maintain the virtues of a good fried spud, with the added benefits of quicker cooking times and more healthful ingredients — options like eggplant fries, baked sweet potato fries, and now — jicama fries.

What are jicama fries? I discovered them during a bike ride on a sunny, weekend afternoon when my buddy and I stopped for some lunch. The sandwiches hit our table, and we found them accompanied by something unexpected and strange — not chips or a pickle, but thick slices of jicama, sprinkled with spices. They tasted refreshing and light, and I’ve been obsessed with them ever since.

Before we get into specifics on how to make these jicama fries, though, let me offer a quick disclaimer: Jicama fries are not hot, they are not fried, and they are not made from potatoes. So if you think they don’t qualify as French fries, you are correct. They are, however, made from another member of the root vegetable family, which has a similar starchy, sweet taste. They can easily be cut to look like French fries, and they dip like the real thing, too — into spicy mustard, hot sauces, or fancy curry ketchup. So if you’re up for suspending reality for a moment, give jicama fries a try; they’re especially great for any gathering where soggy fries don’t stand a chance and cool, room temperature food is best.

How to Make Jicama Fries

First find some jicama; the root kind of looks like a tiny coconut or a large turnip. With the help of a peeler, you can easily shed the thin outer layer to reveal the white flesh inside. Then use a knife to cut the jicama into the fry shape of your dreams — steakhouse wedges, batons, or tiny sticks. For an even easier approach, look for pre-cut jicama in your grocery’s produce section

Keep things simple with a sprinkle of lime juice and sea salt, or give it a kick with cayenne or dried dill weed. Because of its neutral taste, jicama will pair well with most spices. (Except, maybe, cinnamon; but if you try it, let us know.) It even stands up to other traditional fry treatments, like getting topped with fried garlic and parsley, a drizzle of avocado crema, or even a white bean and chicken chili with cool goat cheese or queso fresco sprinkled on top. Because jicama may be hard to find, you can also use English cucumbers, watermelon, or cantaloupe in its place. Whatever is in season.