Jicama and Chinese Water Chestnut

Jicama and Chinese Water Chestnut– Ingredients missing from your salad all this while.

The Jicama and Chinese water chestnut are root systems of plants. They have been taken by Asians for centuries with extensive recipes developed around them whether taken raw, stewed, sautéed, stir-fried, steamed, in broth or as a desert. If you have not been acquainted with them, you probably should seek them out soon.  They are usually available in Asian food stores if you can’t find them at your usual grocery store. Both are refreshingly tasty eaten raw on its own, in salads, juiced or in your sandwich. They are excellent alternate food for carrot or lettuce in any meal. The broader our range of food is, the better off in the food chain supply.

Chinese water Chestnut

Chinese water chestnut

The chestnut is not a nut but the corm of an aquatic grass-like plant grown on paddy fields, marshes, or edges of rivers. A corm is a bulb-looking underground storage organ of a plant to ensure the survival of the plant in times of harsher conditions. You can be assured of all the goodness of the plant has to offer is in the corm.

Water chestnut has a thin layer of black skin which needs to be peel or slice away. The fresh is white, crunchy, juicy with an earthy nutty taste. You can pop the peeled corm into your mouth immediately after rinsing or put aside for other culinary uses.  It is best to rinse the water chestnut before and after skin removal to remove dirt. It is mildly sweet eaten raw.

Water Chestnut is high in starchy carbohydrates, rich in vitamin B+ and minerals especially manganese and potassium. Westerners most likely have their first encounter with water chestnut in Chinese restaurant chap suey dish. You can easily incorporate them in your salad, juice, dessert immediately. Try baking water chestnut wrapped with bacon.

Jicama (Mexican yam bean)

Jicama strips

Jicama is a plant native to Mexico. It is a vine capable of growing up to 15 feet with sufficient support and long sunny weather. The Spaniards introduced the jicama turnip to the Philippines and from there it spreads to the whole of Asia. It is so common in Asia now that it is often thought as ingenious to Asia.

Jicama turnips come in various sizes, as small as palm-size to weight as much as 23kg. It has a uniform light brown bark-light skin that needs to be peeled or sliced away.  The turnip may look intimidating especially the bigger one, but trust me, what is hidden inside the skin is truly delightful. The fibrous skin can be easily peeled off in section once you can get hold of a small top section of the skin.

The fresh is pure white, refreshingly crunchy, juicy and sweet. Some described it as apple-like but personally I think it stands on its own. But you certainly can eat it like an apple once the skin is removed.

Jicama is nearly pure dietary fiber with 90% water. A good supplement for vitamin C and potassium. Jicama is rich in oligofructose inulin. This compound not only gives the sweet taste to jicama but it is prebiotic that nurture beneficial organism in our guts.  Due to its slow conversion to glucose, jicama is suitable for moderate consumption by diabetics.

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