As I was at the Mexican store, picking up some things for my fish tacos, I saw some jicama on sale. I usually do not make a side salad when we have fish tacos, but I thought why not? I was sure I would think of something to do with it.
A jicama is a large Mexican tuber that is kind of like a potato, kind of like a radish, kind of like a carrot, but it is not like any of those things. It has a crisp, watery texture and a unique taste. Cut into ½ inch sticks, it goes well with carrot and celery sticks in a raw vegetable plate with a dip. You can fry slices of it, grate it into a coleslaw, or toss chunks into a stew. It is really a rather versatile vegetable.
Jan bought me a mandoline and I have gotten a bit slice crazy with it. I especially like the match stick blades. With just a few quick strokes, you can have a pile of perfect 1/8 inch vegetable matchsticks.
One problem with jicama is that when it is crisp, it can also be brittle. If I did not do something my jicama matchsticks would quickly turn into tiny broken bits. A bit of salt would draw off enough moisture to make them slightly limp and less likely to break into pieces. This would also prevent my salad from getting soggy.
Karl’s Chili Lime Jicama Salad
6 red radishes
1 small jicama
1 heirloom carrot
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbs. lime juice
½-1 tsp. Ancho chili powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
1. Use a mandoline to slice the radishes, jicama and carrot into matchsticks.
Tip: You can cut the vegetables into matchsticks by hand, but it would turn a three minute task into a 30 minute task. It is well worth the low cost to run out and buy a mandoline.
Note: If you buy a mandoline, be sure to buy a knife proof glove to go with it. A mandoline will make quick work of cutting up vegetables, but it will also make quick work of shredding your fingers.
2. Put the vegetables in a mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt over them. Let the vegetables rest for at least 30 minutes, mixing them up every five minutes or so to spread the brine over the matchsticks.
3. Drain and squeeze the liquid out of the vegetables and add the lime juice, Ancho chili powder, and black pepper. Toss the vegetables to distribute the dressing evenly.
Tip: Add as much or as little chili powder as you, and your dinners, are comfortable with. I found half a teaspoon to have a good bite, without it overwhelming the vegetable flavors.
4. Let the salad meld for at least 30 minutes, tossing occasionally.
5. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and serve on the side.