Friday, January 11, 2013

Jicama with Spicy Lime Dipping Salt

I hesitate to say this because I saw, on pinterest, a comment about my Crack Broccoli that was like, "Really--kids ate this over cupcakes????? Please." But I am going to anyway: at a party, we ran out of jicama and spicy lime dipping salt before we ran out of chicken wings and grape-jelly meatballs and cheesecake bites. And, just to be clear, it was not a party we threw for, say, a spa manager or Kate Moss. This is just wildly, shockingly good. The jicama is sweet and supercrunchy and green-bean tasting, and the dipping salt is spicy and limey and perfect. Kids love this; grown-ups love this; you will love it too, I almost promise.

If you have never bought a jicama before, buy one now. It will be in the supermarket near the other root vegetables that you scuttle nervously past: the scary yucca and tarro and Jerusalem artichokes. It is brown and and leathery and, at this time of year, a little beat-up looking. But then it will be refreshingly crisp and pretty inside. If you can't find, or are too afraid of, the jicama, try the dipping salt with watermelon. Yum.

For some reason, I couldn't help imagining that my jicama had a bad personality. What? You don't look so great yourself, lady.  Or maybe I was feeling bad because, on top of all its other aesthetic problems, there was the fact that I dropped it in the driveway when I was getting out of the car.
Phbbbt! I'm not the only one with a whisker growing out of my mole!
But it's like a geode. A vegetal root geode. Inside, it is creamy white and gorgeous. Actually, quite deep inside. With this bad fellow, I had to pare away a great deal of skin and fibrous and oddly tan flesh before I got to the good part. This is more of a paring-knfie situation than a vegetable-peeler one.
Spicy Lime Dipping Salt
A few things. You're going to be like, "Why the sugar?" And why the sugar is that, otherwise, it is really too salty when you dip into it. But feel free to try it that way, if you want to. You can, of course, vary the amount of cayenne to suit your taste, or you can try something else spicy (I go back and forth on chipotle here, since I actually find the smokiness a little distracting). And the citric acid. I know. But it's the only dry way I know to add a little tartness to something. Mine came from a brewers' supply store, but you can order it online or, possibly, get it at the supermarket.

1 tablespoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon citric acid (optional)
The finely grated zest of 1 scrubbed lime

In a mortar and pestle (or another grinding device of your choosing), grind all the ingredients together until finely powdered.

Serve with peeled jicama cut into narrow strips or with watermelon or cantaloupe cubes.

I got my mortar and pestle at Marshall's for $10, and I am in love with it.


  1. Well, that commenter clearly hadn't actually *tried* the crack broccoli. That stuff is amazing, and my broccoli-hating 11-year-old thinks so too! I'm sure this is just as good. I'll have to see about that citric acid ...

  2. dale in denver1:39 PM

    I have some Ball ascorbic acid from canning tomatoes this summer - basically vitamin C, slightly tart. I wonder if I could substitute.

    I also have some kohlrabi hanging around in my vegetable bins - looks like a good way to use up!

  3. My mouth is actually puckering and watering at the words citric acid! This looks really tasty.

  4. Wow, that looks awesome! My wife might even eat this, mmmmm, spicy dipping salt. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I made this tonight. It. Was. Awesome. The wife even ate it. This is a new fav. for me, thank you!

  5. Wow, you manage to achieve sweet/spicy/salty/tart in one bowl. Very impressive. Will try this.

  6. Those Pinterest ladies can be tough! Gonna have to think about the citric acid, but if I'd try it on anyone's recommendation, it would probably be yours. I usually cut jicama into strips, and then toss it with chile powder, salt and lime juice. Then I stick it in the fridge and snack on it all week.

  7. Jamie8:33 PM

    Citric acid is available in the bulk bins of our Whole Foods.

  8. Anonymous9:21 PM

    Oh wow, this sounds fabulous. Reminds me of a "sesame salt" recipe I got from Epicurious to flavor asparagus (should try it with jicama!). And incidentally, my "crack broccoli" is enhanced by lemon zest while cooking, and lemon juice and parmesan cheese after. My son begs for his daddy's portion when his daddy works late...

  9. This looks fantastic and I can totally believe it'd be a hit at a party. So up my crunch- and tang-loving alley. (That sounded weirder than I meant it...) I'm making this for sure. And thanks to the commenter above who said the citric acid might be at WF. I'll try there first. xo

  10. My family now eats roasted broccoli, roasted green beans and roasted cauliflower by the panful, so I trust your quirky recipes. Oddly enough, I think we might already have some citric acid on the shelf...

  11. What is the world coming to when you say: "I actually find the smokiness a little distracting"?

  12. I puffy heart jicama! Will definitely try this!

  13. Anonymous1:34 AM

    One: We eat the roasted broccoli probably 4 times a week these days. Baby, preschooler, and two grownups.

    Two: I just made - finally! - your dill-vinegar-salt popcorn tonight to celebrate my third night of solo parenting. AWWWWWEsome.

    Three: Can't wait to try this!

    Four: Can I just ask, Will my stubborn, defiant, recalcitrant, truculent, etc. 4.5 year old eventually grow up to be someone with basic good manners? He will, right? Sometimes I despair...

    Five: Thanks, as always, for all of this!


  14. citric acid is also sold as "vitamin C powder" in small jars in the whole foods vitamins section. sometimes it is good to add to bread. i forget why.

    i will definitely try this, and will revisit that crack broccoli. happy to be reminded!

  15. MUST TRY THIS. Also, chiming in to say that although my 8-year-old prefers her broccoli raw (weirdo), my 2-year-old does in fact eat all of the Crack Broccoli on her plate and then demands more, before she eats a single piece of pasta or fruit or chicken.

  16. My little boys are going to love making this:)

  17. Anonymous10:41 PM

    Oh- and there's this stuff called "TruLemon" and "TruLime" (or something equally appalling) that's basically dehydrated & powdered lemon/lime juice. My mother loves it, and it'd probably work really well in this recipe. Available at all conventional grocery stores, I think.

  18. Anonymous1:03 PM

    I will try this tonight, using sumac to add tartness instead of the citric acid. Thanks for the idea!

  19. This is really delicious- so simple and yummy; thanks for the recipe!

  20. Jennifer LB9:59 PM

    My son's upper elementary class LOVED this for snack today. It was so popular at dinner last night we brought it in for them to try. Improvised a mortar and pestle with a small heavy marble vase and a metal bowl. Thanks again for a great idea! I had only had jicama in Mexican salads before and found it really yummy.

  21. melissa11:52 PM

    This sounds good, and different, thank goodness. I will take it to a football party, I think! As for crack broccoli, my family prefers their broc steamed, but the crack takes little enough extra effort that I make a bunch just for me as I cook the rest of dinner. I'm happy, they're happy, and I resent them less for making me cook boring food. I'm reading "motherlode" the other day, laughing until I'm crying. And I think, "This is awesome!I love motherlode, but never laugh this hard. I wonder who wrote this?" So I scroll up to check the byline. And of course, it was you. A lovely surprise, like finding $5 from last year in a coat pocket. Thank you for all your wonderfulness.

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  23. Kelly M7:14 PM

    This was a HUGE Super Bowl hit! It was an all-Catherine weekend around here after The Cake You Want on Saturday night. Thanks, as always, for so much yummyness!

  24. Finally got to the bigger grocery store in my town with an "ethnic veggie section" to try this jicama recipe. LOVE IT!! The six year old have it an "OK", but she is not a spice fan. Hubby liked it as well. I have spent the last 6 weeks of winter catching up on the years I missed reading this blog. Loved reading you at Wondertime and Family Fun, but kind of forgot to find you in the cyber world. Huzzah!!