Jicama (HEE-ka-ma/HIK-ka-ma) is an irony. Gnarly, gigantic and intimidating in its exterior, underneath its rough peel lies a mildly sweet, crunchy and refreshing surprise. Some consider it to have the same flavour as the water chestnut; my best analogy would be a radish without it peppery pungence, or an Asian pear without its sweetness.
For me, Jicama is something familiar yet unfamiliar. I had been eating jicama long before I knew what what it was. In local cuisine, it is the scrumptious filling for popiah (Fujian-style fresh spring rolls) or kuih pie tee (savoury mini pastry cups). It is also usually boiled, usually with carrots, to make a light Chinese-style soup. Yet I have never really bothered with jicama; after all there are plenty more prettier and more tasty vegetables around. However in the name of Vegan Mofo, I decided it was time to familiarize myself with some local vegetables!
Upon further research on this tuber, I was surprised to learnt that jicama is also popular in Mexican cuisine and in fact, it actually originated in Mexico. In the 17th century it was introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish, and from there taken to China and Southeast Asia. Whereas Asians like to have their jicama cooked, in Mexico it is usually eaten raw – sliced and sprinkled with salt, chili and lime. What a interesting idea; it never occurred to me that it could be eaten raw!
Fusing the ideas of Mexican jicama crudites with Asian cuisine, this Peanut Delirium Spicy Thai Quinoa Jicama Pomelo Salad with Sriracha Glazed Peanuts was conceived. A mouthful of a title, but I promise, you too will want a mouthful of this salad. Full-on peanut flavour from the dressing and crunchy sriracha roasted peanuts (seriously, the bomb!) with a blast of punchy spice from the copious amounts of more sriracha and red pepper flakes. I know that jicama was supposed to be the star ingredient, but who can compare when peanut butter is around? Nevertheless, it does play an important role – impart a pleasant crunch to the salad which makes it so incredibly good.
I’m really happy with the outcome of the dressing because I’ve been trying to perfect the Thai-style peanut butter dressing. Rather than consulting and comparing numerous recipes, I went by taste, adding a bit more agave and squirting more sriracha as needed. If you’re looking for a spicy peanut butter dressing with the kick of limes, this is it.