The bulbous root of a jicama is notable for its yellowish and papery skin that reminds me of the gossamer threads I used to peel off the birch trees I climbed as a kid. The modest outside covers a creamy white shining interior with a crisp bright texture that resembles an Asian pear or raw potato. The jicama is popular in Mexico where its sweet and starchy flavor is often teased out by lime juice and chili powder. Here I added two kinds of chili powder, the sweetness of a mango and the acidity of a lime. It is all tempered by a savory touch of cilantro and gently showered with the candied viscous drizzle of honey. Hot, simple and delicately fresh, I serve this often as an appetizer that brings the heat of temptation and sweet seduction with only a fleeting sense of relief.
- 1 medium jicama
- 2 large mangos
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 teaspoons powdered dried chili (I used 1 tsp cayenne, 1 tsp ancho)
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1 cucumber (optional)
- 2 tablespoons honey
- Kosher salt
Peel and cut the jicama into long thin strips. If you’re using a cucumber to tame the heat, slice the cucumbers in half, scoop out the seeds and then cut into strips similar in size to the jicama strips. Peel the mangoes, then cut into wedges or cubes. Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl with the chopped cilantro, powdered chilis, and lime juice. When ready to serve, season with a little salt, drizzle with honey and garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.