Heralding the arrival of summer, edamame, are one of the most celebrated delicacies in summer in Japan. It is almost impossible for us to endure the long hot and humid summer without these delicious green beans. Boiled green soybeans dusted with sea salt with a glass of ice-cold beer or barley tea is a summertime treat
throughout the country. In the past several years edamame has become indispensable snack items at US Japanese restaurants. As they became popular among Americans, supermarkets across the country began carrying partially-cooked, frozen edamame. This means that you can enjoy them any time throughout the year with just quick re-heating in the boiling water. Fantastic!
This year I began to see fresh, green edamame sold in large quantity at farmers markets in and outside of New York City. The other day I purchased some still on the stems. While removing the pods from the stem and feeling rough texture on the pod, I was convinced that I had super fresh beans. My mother used to tell me that fresh beans are covered with fuzzy hairs on the outside, and they disappear quickly after harvesting. After separating all the pods from the stems, I tossed and rubbed them with some sea salt. This is an additional tip from my mother – rubbing the pods with sea salt removes fuzzy hairs. I used to cook these beans in salt added boiling water until I discover the better way to do from my friend, Jiro Iida, an Executive Chef at Aburiya Kin’nosuke Japanese Restaurant in New York City. Jiro cooks his edamame in a heated Chinese wok with nothing added to the wok. The intense heat cooks the beans. In this way beans are steamed in their own natural juice, acquiring smoky, sweeter flavor.
Buzz who spends many months these days in Tokyo has one comment about edamame in Japan. He has sampled fresh beans from all over Japan – the package sold at supermarket always states the origin. He reports that beans from nearby Chiba Prefecture are the best!!!
Edamame is a wonderful food. They are rich in protein, vitamin A and B vitamins, calcium and dietary fibers. They also contain a substantial amount of vitamin C, which is lost in the dried soy beans. An additional bonus is that edamame contain a chemical that promotes alcohol digestion – beer and edamame is like a bread and butter relationship. One warning is that these green beans, though wonderfully delicious, are rather hard to digest, so eating too many give you a stomach ache. Anyway, as I always say, everything should be in moderation when it comes to food.