Typically soybeans in their dried form must be cooked at length in order to become digestible. But edamame (or green soybeans) are harvested at the peak of ripeness, which makes them soft, chewy and ready to eat in just minutes.
The word edamame means “Beans on Branches,” since they grow in clusters on bushy branches. If you take a closer look at the pods, they’re quite fuzzy. To retain their fresh, natural flavor, they are typically parboiled and quick-frozen.
Soybeans are a major source of protein in Asia and are rapidly gaining in popularity in the US. I see them served in restaurants and have them offered me at dinner parties. Edamame are often consumed as a snack, used in side vegetable dishes or in soups. Children like them for their wonderful chewy texture and mild, somewhat sweet flavor. Another reason why they’re so popular with children is that they’re a fun finger food.
To prepare whole Edamame pods, simply cook the whole bean pods in salted water, drain, top with a sprinkle of coarse salt and then squeeze the beans directly from the pods into your mouth. If you’re buying them frozen, follow the package directions because many are sold already partially cooked and they simply need a quick reheating.
These days edamame are available pretty much everywhere, either in the pod or shelled and ready to use. If your children like them, incorporate them into their diets in as many ways possible. Edamame in any form are incredibly nutritious, loaded with protein, high in fiber, and relatively low in carbs. Below is a quick and flexible salad recipe that can be adapted as you wish.
1/4 c. seasoned sushi rice vinegar
1 T. light vegetable oil
1/4 t. salt
1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 pkg. (about 16 ounces) frozen, shelled edamame
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4 inch dice (Jicama or radish can be substituted)
1/2-1 c. lightly packed chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Mix the oil, vinegar, and seasonings in a large bowl. Cook the edamame according to the package directions, then place in the bowl with the chopped apple and the cilantro and toss to coat the vegetables with the dressing.