This week marks the first of a yearlong project to cook with an edible plant every week. I’m interested in investigating not just the recipes available, but a little about the history, culture, botany, and folklore of the different plants. Sometimes I’ll use something tried and true, but I also want to branch out and try some ingredients, techniques, and styles that are unfamiliar to me.
So let’s begin with jicama!
Taste: The most frequent comparison made of jicama is to either apple or water chestnut. I’d categorize its flavor as “earthy sweet”. Its texture really is similar to water chestnut, radish, or daikon – take your pick!
Use: Usually consumed raw. However, Lisa from Smithsonian mentions that jicama is very tasty cooked. I like the sound of the roasted red pepper and jicama risotto she got at a restaurant.
History: It’s a staple of Mexican cuisine, and is frequently sold as a treat on street carts.
Botany: Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus). The tuberous root is the only edible part of the plant. All other parts of the plant—leaves, stems, flowers—are poisonous. The vines of the jicama plant can really take over a garden. The flowers look like those of a sweet pea.
Recipe: I took a look at various recipes on the web that use jicama, and my friend Liz shared this recipe for jicama slaw. The slaw is a Bobby Flay invention, and as my husband Mike likes to say, Bobby likes to put cilantro in everything. So we left that out. I also quickly realized that the recipe would make enough slaw to feed everyone at a family reunion, so I quickly adjusted the amounts.
Here’s the recipe, along with my own addition of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon with peppered panko crust. I really think the combination of lime, vinegar, and chili in the slaw brought out the flavors in the salmon.
Jicama Slaw (adapted from Bobby Flay’s recipe)
- 1 medium jicama, peeled and finely shredded
- 1/2 small cabbage
- 2 carrots, shredded
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoons chili powder (I found regular chili powder will do, but Bobby recommends ancho)
- 1 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- Salt and black pepper
Mix together carrots, jicama, and cabbage.
Whisk lime juice, vinegar, chili powder, honey, and oil together, and pour over salad. Add salt and pepper to taste and toss well.
Place thin layer of slaw on plates to serve as bed for salmon.
- 2 lbs wild salmon
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- about 1-2 tsp fresh orange zest
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
Make panko breading by mixing together panko crumbs, orange zest, garlic, and lots of grated pepper. I don’t add salt to the mixture because I like to salt the fish.
Wash and pat dry the salmon. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Sprinkle salt liberally on the fish.
Place about 1/2 cup flour on first plate.
Wisk 2 eggs together and place on second plate.
On third plate, place breadcrumb mixture.
Heat about 2 tablespoons of oil in nonstick pan on medium-high heat.
Begin fish dipping process: first light dusting of flour on both sides, then egg mixture on both sides, then coat with panko.
Cook fish for 4 minutes on each side, or until dark pink color can’t be seen in fish. Add an extra minute or two on each side if you have a very very thick piece of salmon.
Once cooked, plate salmon on slaw.