Monday, October 15, 2012

Layered Jicama-Mango Salad

If you’ve never eaten jicama, you’re in for a treat! With a taste like a potato crossed with an apple and a turnip, jicama (pronounced “hick-ah-mah”) makes great eating, whether raw or in baked or fried dishes. You’ll find many, many jicama recipes on the Internet - though you won’t find this excellent one, because my friend Lorna invented it.

I made this beautiful salad with great success for a late-summer lunch, and made it again for the Early Fall Dinner Party I’ve been blogging for the past few days. But guess what? The second time around, when I really wanted to show off this dish, the recipe flopped because the jicama had a sour, fermented taste - something I didn’t realize until I served it. Tip: It’s always a good idea to taste a dish before you serve it!

I want to show you how this great salad looked when I made it in early September, so you won’t get turned off by reading that the recipe failed at my dinner party! Heres summer’s presentation - tah dah!

Layered Jicama-Mango Salad: Outstanding!

I’ll also show you the step-by-step way to make this, using Lornas recipe. So what went wrong at my Fall Dinner Party? Lorna and I went back in time to recapture the purchase and storage of this (normally) tasty vegetable. But first, let’s take a gander at a typical jicama. Modest and unassuming, it’s the plain-jane of the produce counter:

This jicama weighed 3/4 lb. Lorna's salad used only half of it

My Autumn jicama may not have been fresh: A thick skin signals an old jicama. This jicama’s skin was very thick - something not apparent until after I’d peeled it. Tip: Buy only the freshest of fresh produce! 

The way I stored this tuber may also have been the problem. Unwrapped in the fridge, jicamas keep well for a couple of weeks. Once they’ve been cut and peeled, they should be wrapped for no more than a week, and kept away from moisture. Stored longer, the starch in them turns to sugar, producing an unpleasant flavor. 

Eager to do as much as possible ahead of time for my Fall Dinner Party, I cut the jicama into julienne (matchstick) strips two days before the party. My fridge is small and crowded, so I stored the jicama in the moist environment of a cooler. There, the wrap covering the bowl slipped, exposing the jicama to water. Oh-oh! I again must apologize to my guests, who - despite this disastrous meal - raved over the Terrific Garlic Bread (blog post of June 9, 2012) that Ron made for our dinner.  

If you buy fresh, unbruised jicama and store it properly, you’ll be very pleased with this excellent salad and any other jicama dish you prepare. Displaying the layers in a glass dish or on an interesting plate provides an attractive presentation. 

Layered Jicama-Mango Salad:
To Prepare the Salad:

3 Romaine lettuce leaves, stems removed, torn bite-sized
½ a small jicama, peeled and julienned (see Note)
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
3 Japanese cucumbers, peels left on, sliced paper-thin 
½ a mango, peeled and sliced into strips
½ c. fresh blueberries, to scatter over mango

With the Romaine leaves as your base, layer ingredients in order given.

To Prepare the Dressing:

1 part red wine vinegar
3 parts extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. orange-flavored liqueur
Salt and pepper, to taste

Combine well, drizzling over layers just before serving. If you prefer, commercially made Raspberry Vinaigrette works equally well in dressing this salad.

Start with fresh, crisp Romaine

Cut half the jicama into strips with a julienne slicer

The same kitchen tool made these carrot strips

Slice unpeeled Japanese cucumbers (aka miniature cukes).
If you can't find these cukes, use the long English variety

My mandolin makes quick work of cutting paper-thin slices. 

Prepare to cut mango strips

Layer fresh mango over cucumbers, carrots, jicama, 
and Romaine lettuce. Sprinkle fresh blueberries over all. 

Note: Lorna and I used slightly different but equally effective tools to julienne the jicama and carrots. 

My favorite julienne slicer
Lorna's favorite julienne slicer 

My mandolin cuts paper-thin slices in mere seconds! 
Each of these tools costs less than $15. Each is also a huge time-saver. If you dont have such specialized cutters, consider buying them! Simple tools like these make cooking a pleasure, rather than a chore.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Want to find a long-lost favorite recipe? Want to submit one of yours, or simply leave a comment? Always happy to hear from you!