Monday, December 21, 2009

Me encanta el jicama.

In elementary school, I was in a Spanish immersion program. I learned everything in Spanish through 5th grade, making me pretty much fluent (thanks, mom and dad!). A side effect of this program was the development of a really unique culture. The "English kids" loathed Spanish immersion due to our outshining them at every Field Day (and, well, everything else, too. We were smarter, faster, stronger and more likable). The separation caused us grow up a little differently than our peers. I own Chavo del Ocho (a Mexican children's television show from the late 70's, early 80's) on DVD, since we watched it in class. I learned to dance merengue in third grade. I have spent many an afternoon searching for this Ecuadorian potato pancake recipe (something I ate in fourth grade). I read the first Harry Potter in Spanish. And at some point I became addicted to jicama.

The jicama is a root vegetable that falls somewhere between the potato and the apple. It is massive and ugly, and as I've noticed, readily available in supermarkets. This salad is the result of an impulse jicama purchase.

Jicama is just delicious raw, so a salad seemed a good way to go. I don't normally get too excited about salads, but this can almost be considered a slaw (without the mayo), and would make a great accompaniment to a burger or tacos. It also is great atop a pile of romaine. I can imagine it just heaped on a bed of lettuce as the starter to an impressive dinner--the presentation is just effortless thanks to the colors of the ingredients.

Jicama Salad
Serves 4

This salad is made possible by a mandoline slicer. If you don't own one, Christmas is just around the corner! Do yourself a favor. You'll use it, I promise.

1 jicama, peeled
1 lime (may need 1 1/2 limes, depents on the size of your jicama)
2 carrots
3 radishes
1 navel orange (though would be phenomenal with blood oranges)
1/4-1/2 t Chili powder
Salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Cut jicama into shoestring size pieces using mandoline slicer. Top with juice of one lime to prevent oxidation. Cut carrot in half through the middle and slice same as jicama. Chop radishes as carrots or jicamas, or (in retrospect, this would have been easier) in paper-thin slices. Peel and segment orange. Toss and sprinkle with chili powder, salt, and pepper.

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