Jicama, a root vegetable from Central America, won’t win any beauty contests.

On the outside, it’s a large, tan-colored, sometimes misshapen root with a thick, tough skin. Luckily, what counts is on the inside, with a subtle flavor that tastes like a cross between apples and potatoes, and a crunchy texture that brings interest to any dish.

You’ll find jicama in many Mexican salads and salsas. It’s also a popular street food, often sold raw, cut into sticks along with cucumber and mango, and sprinkled with lime juice and cayenne.

In Shrimp, Jicama and Avocado Salsa, the jicama delivers a delightful crunch that will keep you coming back for more.

What brings the flavor, though, is an unexpected combination of lime juice and, strangely, ketchup. Yes, ketchup is an odd ingredient to find in a salsa, but somehow, in this salsa it works well. Maybe because this isn’t the traditional type of salsa that you’d spoon onto a taco. It’s really more of a cross between shrimp cocktail and ceviche.

Unlike a ceviche, where the protein is “cooked” in an acidic liquid, the shrimp is briefly boiled in a salty, acidulated water. It’s then tossed and chilled in lime juice, before jicama, sweet onion, jalapeño, cilantro and avocado are added.

The combination of the lime juice, jalapeño and a bit of ketchup is what gives it a shrimp cocktail-like quality. While it’s difficult to understand, the touch of sweetness from the ketchup, reined in by the tart lime juice, pulls the entire dish together, highlighting all the other ingredients, rather than covering them up.

Tortilla chips seem like the perfect vehicle to get this salsa from the plate to your mouth, but it can certainly be eaten on its own, on a bed of crisp lettuce or even as a taco, nestled into a warm tortilla.

Shrimp, Jicama and Avocado Salsa

Serves 4.

Note: Think of this light, refreshing dish as a delicious combination of classic shrimp cocktail and Mexican ceviche. Ketchup may seem like a strange addition, but the bit of added sweetness brings all the other flavors together. From Meredith Deeds.

• 1 tsp. salt

• 1 whole lime, halved

• 1 lb. raw medium-sized shrimp, peeled and deveined

• 2 tbsp. lime juice

• 3/4 c. chopped jicama

• 1/2 c. chopped sweet onion

• 1/2 c. chopped tomato

• 1/4 c. chopped cilantro

• 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

• 1 medium jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

• 1/4 c. ketchup

• Shredded lettuce

Directions

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add in the salt. Squeeze the juice from both lime halves into the water and add the lime halves, too. Add the shrimp, cover and let the water return to a boil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the shrimp is just done. Spread out the shrimp on a plate to cool for 10 minutes. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces and place in bowl. Add the lime juice and toss to coat. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.

Add the jicama, onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, jalapeño and ketchup to the bowl with the shrimp and toss to coat. Taste and season with more salt or lime juice, if necessary. Arrange shredded lettuce on serving plates and spoon the salsa over the top. Serve with tortilla chips on the side, if desired.

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.

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