When on a new food hunt this week, I saw a bin of jicama. (hee-ka-ma) When I got home, I looked it up and saw that it was a root vegetable and could be used in place of water chestnuts.
Perfect. I was thinking about making a pan of my favorite stew anyhow and one of the ingredients is water chestnuts – so I could substitute the jicama. Basically it’s kind of ugly, with blister like pox marks on the side and felt a little sticky (which the web informed me is fairly common because of some kind of wax that’s put on it.)
I learned that the best way to peel is to cut off the bottom so it sits flat on a cutting board and then cut down the sides (you can’t use a peeler.) So that’s what I did.
(Ok, so I’m not on Food Network and my knife cuts weren’t even – but they’ll do.)
So one website said the taste was between an apple and a potato. Another said a combination of a potato and a water chestnut. Confessing something here – anytime I boil potatoes to mash, I always take a chunk of raw potato, put salt on it and eat it – so I know what raw potatoes taste like. And I know what apples taste like too. I did not taste apples or potatoes when I ate a piece of jicama. Nor was it a water chestnut/potato taste. I kind of thought it had it’s own unique taste and was more bitter than I was expecting.
Anyhow, I browned my onions and ground beef.
And put it in a baking dish with the jicama, tomatoes, beef broth, seasonings and lots of barley. (Barley is a must for me in any stew.) And I baked for a half hour.
After a half hour, I added a package of mixed vegetables and baked for another 30.
And I had my favorite barley/beef stew with the addition of jicama. I had already pretty much decided I was going back to water chestnuts next time around.
But actually, once it had been baked in the stew – the jicama really DID taste like water chestnuts and was just fine. A great substitute.
Not really sure how I would rate it. Maybe 5 out of 10?