Making Waves: Jicama Dishes From Across The Pacific

Even though Jicama is a Central American home town hero, it’s huge in southeast Asia, where almost every country has their own regionally specific jicama dish. Originally brought to Asia by Spaniards after the colonization of Central America, jicama has been intricately linked to Asian cuisine since the 17th century. That’s great for consumers but even better for chefs, as a longstanding culinary history correlates with versatility and reliability in the kitchen. Put jicama to the test with our favorite dishes from across the pacific.

Lumpia

The Philippines were the first eastern country to be exposed to jicama, so naturally, they knocked it out of the park very early on. Think of lumpia as a Filipino take on an egg-roll, complete with a crunchy texture and unified flavor profile. Naturally, the crispness of jicama is perfectly suited to this appetizer and is traditionally combined with pork, carrots, and garlic.

Rojak

We always stand behind well crafted street food, which is why we’re such big fans of rojak. This Malaysian dish (also known as rujak in Indonesia) is a fruit and vegetable salad that has been almost an innumerable amount of variations, but we particularly enjoy fruit based rojak, which pairs the freshness of jicama with tropical fruits like pineapple and mango. It’s all tied together with a salty/sweet dressing that utilizes sugar, lime juice, and shrimp paste, among other things.

Jicama Stir Fry

My oh my, how we love stir fry. Cheesy rhyming aside, it’s always good to have a unique stir fry in your back pocket. Jicama helps bring a fresh crunch to traditional stir frys, and pairs well with common protein options like teriyaki chicken, spicy tofu, and sesame beef. Serve over rice and noodles for a filling main course.

Jicama Salad

Substituting jicama for green papaya in the eternally beloved “Som Tam” (green papaya salad) may seem like sacrilege, but the end result is surprisingly comparable. Jicama brings a different type of sweetness to this Thai salad, offering a lighter take that doesn’t stray far from som tam’s classic flavor profile. Better yet, since jicama doesn’t brown after being cut, you can prep this dish well ahead of time to great effect.

Popiah

Jicama is integral to this Singaporean spring roll, ensuring that each room retains that refreshing crunch once you start laying on the additional ingredients. Though this dish generally calls for prawns or pork, you can substitute in thick shiitake mushrooms for a vegetarian friendly take. Additionally, this is a great way to offer a “healthier” take on spring rolls in your kitchen, as the dough isn’t typically fried.