Friday, 2 December 2016

Mexican gardening: Jicama

Jicama seeds, valladolid market, yucatan, mexico

The Secret Garden Club loves Mexican food. It's difficult to obtain authentic ingredients in the UK, although this is continually improving, so in the past we've grown jalapenos, tomatillos, poblanos and mouse cucumbers.

I'm just back from a trip to the Yucatan, where the food is strongly influenced by Mayan ingredients - achiote, sour oranges, pumpkins and their seeds, habanero chillies and jicama. I tried to smuggle jicama back home in my hand luggage, but these were confiscated at Minneapolis airport, along with my beautiful white stone molcajete and my hot sauces. Sob. I'm still not over it.

Their habaneros are milder than ours, which is ideal as I find them too hot to be pleasurable in the UK. I love chillies but I'm not into all that macho posturing about heat. I want flavour rather than Scovilles. Fresh green and yellow habaneros are wonderful, simply sliced into food or served as a garnishing pickle.

I did manage to bring back some jicama seeds, so hopefully Zia Mays and I will be able to grow some of these radish-y/potato-ish roots. They are a bit like 'oca' but without the lemony flavour. You can eat it raw, say in a salad. I had it like that at Hartwood restaurant, with a hibiscus dressing. It was probably the best thing they served. Peel the tough skin off with a sharp knife.

It can also be used cooked, as chips, briefly fried in olive oil and doused with chilli salt. This time next year, the Secret Garden Club will hopefully be laden with jicama. I haven't yet found a place to buy them in London.

Jicama seeds, valladolid market, yucatan, mexico
jicama salad, Hartwood restaurant, yucatan, mexico
Jicama salad at Hartwood