Posts Tagged ‘appetizer’

I’m a big fan of underdogs.  Give me Seabiscuit, Daniel-san, or Watts (come on, you know you had a mad crush on Eric Stoltz, too) over Goliath any day.  Or more recently, for all you baseball fans out there, the San Francisco Giants, my ‘home’ team, winning the World Series.  (Though admittedly, I use the term ‘home’ rather loosely since being from Chicago, I’m forever a Cubs fan at heart — but after 100 year losing streak, a girl sometimes takes what she can get).  Regardless, home team or not, you can count on me to root unabashedly for the unassuming, unlikely hero every day of the week, and twice on Sundays.

Today, I am proud to add to this honorable list.  Allow me to introduce the one, the only — Watermelon Radish.  TA-DA!  These babies have become my newest ally intended to bulk up my arsenal for the looming entertaining season.  Serve these purty little gems along side a warm crusty baguette, good homemade butter and a sprinkle of sea salt as your ultimate appetizer.  Simple, elegant, uncanningly delicious and ready to plate and serve in a matter of minutes.  I promise you, this one’s got Underdog of the Year written all over it.  My herrrroooo.

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My favorite Thai restaurant taunts me with a green papaya salad that I can’t get enough of, especially during these summer months.  Throughout the hellacious years of remodeling our house, we’d frequently get takeout and marshal our goods, which nearly always included this green papaya salad, to a nearby beach for dinner, whilst our poor kitchen stood bathed in two inches of dust.  With the home projects (finally) complete, I became fixated on making the salad in my own kitchen.  Unfortunately, my quest for fresh green papaya, I quickly discovered, came up empty handed time and time again, on our cloistered little Island.

What to do, what to do.  One day, while browsing through the produce isle, I noticed a lonely basket of jicama, wedged uncomfortably into a corner.  Ah ha!  I immediately grabbed one and thought it might serve as a good substitute for the green papaya I pined after.

Upon reflection, I now see the error of my ways.  All this time, I could have been utilizing and appreciating the deliciousness of these strange looking, thick skinned, turnip-like creatures I so often passed by.  Jicama have a crisp, refreshing crunch, similar to that of a water chestnut, only better.  They are quite mild, with a hint of sweetness, and a good source of Vitamin C.  Plus, the word jicama sounds cute.  This simple jicama and mango salad comes together in a snap and is perfect for summer months when all you crave is a light, refreshing salad that is full of lip smacking flavor to boot.  We still go to the beach for dinner, but now I can pack a picnic with my new tasty salad and finally let go of my longing for the green papaya.


Jicama and Mango Salad
Kiss My Spatula’s version of the papaya salad from her favorite Thai restaurant

When choosing jicama, make sure they are firm when squeezed and have smooth, unblemished skins.  To make this salad into a full meal, top with grilled or boiled shrimp.

Music Pairing: Johnny Nash, I Can See Clearly Now


  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and sliced into matchsticks about 2-3 inches long
  • 1/2 medium mango, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • fresh mint leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp finely minced garlic
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  • 1/2 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce (more if you like it H-O-T)


Gently toss together jicama, carrots, mango and mint in a large bowl.  Whisk fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, brown sugar, water and hot chili sauce in a small bowl.  Taste and adjust to your liking.  Toss with prepared jicama blend until coated.  Leave to sit in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.  Plate and sprinkle with peanuts and additional mint, if desired.


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