Jicama showed up in my Misfits Market box, so I thought this would be a great time to try jicama fries. Well, technically it's roasted jicama, not fried, but it does come in fry form. For the uninitiated, jicama is a root vegetable that originated in Mexico and Central America. It's papery brown skin is similar to other root veggies like potatoes and ginger. Its white, fibrous interior also resembles a potato. When eaten raw, this member of the bean family tastes a lot like a green snap pea, but with the crunchy, juicy consistency of a water chestnut. Since it's so starchy, jicama makes a wonderful substitute for potatoes and sweet potatoes. Plus, it's way healthier.
Nutrient-dense jicama is made up of mostly water, so you're getting a ton of fiber, vitamins, and nutrients for very little calories. It's rich in Vitamin C, which of course is a powerful antioxidant. It also contains folate, potassium, and magnesium. Plus, prebiotic named inulin feeds good bacteria in the gut, which supports digestive health.
So, are jicama fries healthier than regular fries? Yes. Do they taste the same? Sorta. Even after parboiling, jicama retains its crunch, which makes it a little crunchier than fried potatoes. They're also just a bit sweeter, although not as sweet as fries made from sweet potatoes, which have about twice as much sugar. Ready to make some guilt-free fries guys? Here we go!
First, we peel the jicama. Even though the skin is tough, this can be accomplished with a vegetable peeler. You can also use your hands to pull off the big bits. Under the brown papery layer, there are white stringy fibers that you'll also want to get rid of, so you might need to peel it twice. Once it's peeled, cut the jicama in half. Using a sharp knife, cut into quarter-inch slices. Then, cut those slices into quarter-inch matchsticks. Uniformly sized sticks ensure even cooking. The small bits on the ends will just get overcooked, so it's best to compost them or set them aside for snacking with a little lime and chili powder.
You'll notice that the jicama goes into the pot with the water before you bring it to a boil. This is a smart thing to do with any root veggies to ensure even cooking. The Farmer's Almanac explains the reasoning for this in reference to potatoes, "Throwing cold potatoes into boiling water gelatinizes the starches at the surface of the potato too fast, leaving you with a mushy exterior that falls apart and dissolves into the cooking water before the center cooks through. By starting in cold water, the temperature in the potato rises more gently." #TheMoreYouKnow
Seasoning the water with a few three-fingered pinches of salt is the foundation layer of flavor for the jicama fries. The water will take four or five minutes to come to a boil, which is when you start your timer for 10 minutes. Once they are boiled, drain the jicama matchsticks in a colander. Then, transfer to a plate layered with paper towels to dry even further so the oil will be able to coat them.
Unlike fried french fries that are seasoned after cooking, we toss the jicama fries in olive oil and season them before roasting them. I have not attempted to fry jicama, but you can make these in an air fryer instead of roasting. Jicama's mild flavor takes on whatever you season it with, so feel free to experiment. I used paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt, and pepper below, but other fry seasonings add dried parsley, oregano, thyme, and basil, or even celery salt and chili powder.
A couple of other things before you get started on this venture—you don't have to line your pan with parchment paper, it just makes for easy cleanup. If you don't use it, be sure to spray the pan with oil so your jicama doesn't stick. Don't forget to flip your fries halfway through cooking. There's a spatula in the supplies list for this reason, but you can just give them a good toss if you have the culinary confidence to do so. Serve with ketchup, like this yummy sugar-free version and/or "homemade" ranch. Happy jicama-ing!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Peel and slice jicama into 1/4-inch matchsticks.
Add matchsticks to saucepan. Cover with an inch of water. Add 3/4 teaspoons of salt. Bring water to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes.
While jicama is boiling, combine spices.
Drain jicama in colander and lay on paper towels to dry.
Put olive oil in mixing bowl. Add jicama and toss to coat. Sprinkle on seasonings and toss to coat.
Lay jicama sticks in single layer on lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, flip, then bake for 20 more minutes until tender-crisp and golden brown.
Remove from oven, let cool for a couple of minutes, and enjoy!
Instead of boiling, can microwave jicama with a microwave-safe bowl covered with cling wrap or a plate for 8-10 minutes. Remove carefully - the bowl will be hot and will release steam!