Jicama is the swollen storage root of Pachyrhizus erosus, a South American member of the bean family. Its main virtue is its sturdy crispness: it keeps well, is slow to discolor, and retains some crunch when cooked. Jicama is often eaten raw, in salads or dipped into a sauce, and is sometimes used as a fresh replacement for Chinese water chestnuts, though it doesn’t have the same sweet and nutty character.
From the book On Food and Cooking (2nd edition) by Harold McGee. © 2004 Harold McGee. By permission of Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.