I’ve always been somewhat puzzled to find the word “edamame” in my U.S. (and European) friends’ blogs. This conspicuous vegetable seems to conjure grand images of Japanese gastronomy in spite of its almost base status in this country.
After all, “edamame” (枝豆/branch bean in Japanese) is nothing but green soybeans, a food mass-produced and heavily exported by North American farmers.
Or, is it that the soybean’s image has fallen so low on the other side of the Pacific because some people grow it for bio-ethanol that restaurateurs feel more comfortable with a grand-sounding Japanese name?
Alright, before I get collared for indulging into a cheap rant, let me introduce my own recipe for preparing the “delicacy”:
One does not have to boil it, cool it and serve it sprinkled with salt. This is probably the worst and least healthy way to consume it!
If you can, choose them fresh on the branch(es). This will guarantee they haven’t lost any of their nutrient qualities.
Cut out all the pods and throw away the branches (or re-process them inside your fertilizer box!).
Clean the pods under running water.
Drain water, but do not wipe them dry.
Drop them in an appropriate-sized non-stick pan and hand-rub them in a little coarse salt. The less salt, the better, but enough to season all pods. Experience and personal preferences will tell you how much you need.
Cover pan with a glass lid and switch on fire to medium-low. Cook until water seeps out of the pods. Switch off fire and keep inside covered pan (do not take the lid off!) for a good 5 minutes. By then, they should be sufficiently cooked.
In Japan there exists another variety called Kuro Edamame/黒枝豆-Black Edamame.
Actually they are a light brown-green soybean grown in Shizuoka Prefecture and elsewhere. They are definitely tastier and deserve the title of “delicacy”.
The beans out of their pods also make for great addition to salads, artful presentation with meat dishes, and are great mixed inside “nigiri”!