Our November cooking column is a veritable extravaganza of global cuisine! Maricel E. Presilla’s Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America roams from Mexico to Argentina, from Cuba to Brazil. Cooking columnist Sybil Pratt calls it “a feast and a fiesta.”
Here’s one of the 500 recipes in Presilla’s bountiful cookbook.
Jicama Sticks with Chile and Lime
Botana de Jícama con Chile y Limón
In Querétaro, Mexico, next to many old churches you will find women selling crunchy jicama botanas. I never cease to be amazed at their art. They can turn the humblest vegetable or fruit into a magnificent still life, cutting the burly jicamas into perfect long strips and seasoning them lightly with citrus fruit and a sprinkling of hot pepper. Inspired by these Mexican botanas, I like to arrange long strips of jicama in tequila shot glasses and bring them to the table as an amuse-bouche. Jicama is a vine of the legume family that grows a large edible root shaped like a turnip. Beneath the tan skin, the root flesh has a crunchy texture, not unlike that of water chestnuts. Neutral flavored with a touch of sweetness that offsets its subtle starchy quality, jicama absorbs the heat of the chile and the tang of the citrus juice to make for a crisp and refreshing starter.
Cook’s Note: Some jicamas, especially large ones, tend to be fibrous. Look for a medium-size jicama with dense and crunchy flesh.
What to Drink: A shot of an aged tequila, such as Padrón, Herradura Natural, or Corazón, or a Margarita on the Rocks (page 365)
- 1 pound jicama, peeled
- Juice of 2 limes (about ¼ cup)
- Juice of ½ bitter orange (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon ground dried chile, cayenne, or red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro, optional
- 1 teaspoon sugar (only if the jicama is very fresh and firm)
Cut the jicama lengthwise into ½-inch-thick slices, then cut the slices into ½-inch-wide sticks. Place them in a medium bowl and toss with the rest of the ingredients. Arrange in small 2-ounce tequila shot glasses, standing up like breadsticks, and moisten with the juices of the marinade.