Fresh green soybeans called edamame or sweet beans make a fun finger food and are great in salads, soups, and stir-fries. The edible beans come in pairs inside a fuzzy pod and have a sweet, nutty flavor. They are easy to digest and are exceptionally high in protein (1/2 cup contains 16 grams). The beans also provide vitamin A, fiber, calcium, and a mix of phytochemicals, including isoflavins that act as antioxidants.

Although Americans are just starting to take notice of these snappy little beans, the Chinese have been cultivating them for thousands of years. The word "edamame," however, comes from the Japanese, who love to snack on them right from the pod. The availability of edamame in the United States is definitely growing. Today several kinds—frozen and fresh, in the pod and shelled—can be found in some supermarkets, natural-food stores, and Asian markets. You can also find edamame sold as whole plants at farmers'markets from late May through September.

Best Way to Cook Edamame

The beans inside the pods are the only edible portions of the plant. Cook 1 pound of fresh pods (or shelled beans) in boiling salted water for 3 to 5 minutes. Drain, spread on a baking sheet, and let cool for a few minutes. Remove the beans from the pods, if necessary. Frozen edamame, in or out of the pod, have been lightly blanched and require less cooking.

Kitchen Notes

To enjoy edamame as finger food, use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze the cooked beans from the pod. Fresh soybeans in season are sweeter, crisper, and cleaner tasting than frozen ones, which can lack sweetness and have a softer texture. Store fresh pods in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days.


Buy the Book!


The Complete Vegetarian Handbook
Recipes and Techniques for Preparing Delicious, Healthy Cuisine
by Kathy Farrell-Kingsley
Chronicle Books
$19.95 Paperback
280 pp
ISBN: 081183381X
Excerpt reprinted by permission.


The Complete Vegetarian Handbook



Also try Edamame Succotash

And please visit our Vegetarian Recipes page

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