“Edamame” sounds exotic, and it means beans on branches. The pods grow in clusters on bushy branches. Edamame are green soybeans, harvested before they begin to dry and harden. They are blanched and frozen and are now available year-round in many grocery freezers.
Near my house, in summer, there are still a few fields of soybeans looking lush and green. Some years those same fields are planted with corn. Most of the cornfields I see are field corn, used for producing foods that don’t look like corn: cattle feed, corn syrup and other sweeteners and corn starch used as an ingredient or many processed foods, corn oil, and even packaging material and fuel! That corn is not the delicious, delicate, tender, sweet cob enrobed in butter!
Like the corn, the soybeans in those fields are used dried and processed into many foods (hydrolized vegetable protien, lecithin, meat alternatives, miso, natto, tofu, soy milk, soy flour, and more). Soybeans are also used to make everything from body care products, cleaners, and crayons, to sovents and waxes! Edamame are varieties of the soybean bred to produce tender and sweet beans. Apparently, edamame can be grown easily in a home garden. I don’t think I’ll try, though after feeding the woodchucks, rabbits and deer this past season.
For a simple snack, boil the pods in salted water, sprinkle with some sea salt, then pinch the pod to pop the peas into your mouth. The beans can be used in soups, stir-fries, or as a vegetable dish. This innovative recipe from Hiroko Shimbo uses the beans to make a very pretty dip to eat as a snack or an appetizer.
Bright Green Edamame Dip
1 1/2 cups dip
- 14 ounces edamame (green soybeans) in their shells I find it more economical to by the shelled beans for this recipe—about 1 cup of shelled beans
- 2 ounces feta cheese
- 6 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons plain yogurt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt Add part of the salt and taste: some feta cheese is very salty!
In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the edamame until they are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain them in a flat bottomed colander and fan to speed cooling. (I just put them into cold water and shook them dry.)
Shell the beans, and discrd the shells. In a food processor or blender, blend the beans and all the rest of the ingredients to make a creamy paste.
Serve the dip with rice crackers.
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