Jicama (HEE-ka-ma/HIK-ka-ma) is an irony. Gnarly, gigantic and intimidating in its exterior, underneath its rough peel lies a mildly sweet, crunchy and refreshing surprise. Some consider it to have the same flavour as the water chestnut; my best analogy would be a radish without it peppery pungence, or an Asian pear without its sweetness.
For me, Jicama is something familiar yet unfamiliar. I had been eating jicama long before I knew what what it was. In local cuisine, it is the scrumptious filling for popiah (Fujian-style fresh spring rolls) or kuih pie tee (savoury mini pastry cups). It is also usually boiled, usually with carrots, to make a light Chinese-style soup. Yet I have never really bothered with jicama; after all there are plenty more prettier and more tasty vegetables around. However in the name of Vegan Mofo, I decided it was time to familiarize myself with some local vegetables!
Upon further research on this tuber, I was surprised to learnt that jicama is also popular in Mexican cuisine and in fact, it actually originated in Mexico. In the 17th century it was introduced to the Philippines by the Spanish, and from there taken to China and Southeast Asia. Whereas Asians like to have their jicama cooked, in Mexico it is usually eaten raw – sliced and sprinkled with salt, chili and lime. What a interesting idea; it never occurred to me that it could be eaten raw!
Fusing the ideas of Mexican jicama crudites with Asian cuisine, this Peanut Delirium Jicama Thai Salad with Sriracha Glazed Peanuts was conceived. A mouthful of a title, but I promise, you too will want a mouthful of this salad. Full-on peanut flavour from the dressing and crunchy sriracha roasted peanuts (seriously, the bomb!) with a blast of punchy spice from the copious amounts of more sriracha and red pepper flakes. I know that jicama was supposed to be the star ingredient, but who can compare when peanut butter is around? Nevertheless, it does play an important role – impart a pleasant crunch to the salad which makes it so incredibly good.
I’m really happy with the outcome of the dressing because I’ve been trying to perfect the Thai-style peanut butter dressing. Rather than consulting and comparing numerous recipes, I went by taste, adding a bit more agave and squirting more sriracha as needed. If you’re looking for a spicy peanut butter dressing with the kick of limes, this is it.
- ½ cup raw peanuts
- ¼ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce (Huy Fong brand)
- ¼ teaspoon Chinese five spice powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon white pepper (optional)
- 3 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- 1 tablespoon agave syrup
- 1 teaspoon mirin or ½ tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- ¾ tablespoon sriracha
- Juice of 3 small limes
- 1 tablespoon water to thin (f necessary)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (use less if prefer less spicy)
- ½ cup uncooked red quinoa
- 1 cup jicama batons (from about ⅓ of a medium jicama)
- ½ cup red cabbage, chopped
- ⅓ cup red bell pepper, diced (from about ½ a medium pepper)
- ½ cup carrot, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pomelo sacs (more recommended, up to 2 cups)
- Few bunches of cilantro, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 350°F / 170°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, mix together the oil, sriracha and seasonings. Add the peanuts and mix until evenly coated.
- Spread the nuts evenly onto the parchment paper. Bake for 10-15 minutes until toasted. Let cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
- In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients for the dressing except for the water and red pepper flakes. If necessary, add water to thin out the dressing to desired consistency (I added 1 tablespoon). Finally add the red pepper flakes until preferred spiciness level. As a guide, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes would give a very spicy dressing.
- If not using the dressing immediately, store in the refrigerator.
- Cook quinoa. First rinse the quinoa, then place it in a saucepan with 1 cup water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook about 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and quinoa is cooked through. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.
- Add the cooked quinoa to a large mixing bowl. Add the remaining salad ingredients (jicama, red cabbage, red pepper, carrots, pomelo sacs and cilantro) and mix until well combined.
- To serve, mix in the peanut dressing and top with the sriracha peanuts.