If you haven’t joined the edamame fan club yet, it’s probably just a matter of time. You may already know that edamame (pronounced eh-duh-MAH-may) are soybeans, and that soy foods have long been a staple in Asia. Here, the popularity of these little green beans has grown steadily since they emerged on the culinary scene in the 1980s, when the steamed and salted beans in the pod were served in Asian restaurants as a tasty snack.
Since then edamame has gone mainstreal – shelled and in the pod; fresh and frozen. You may find crisp, blemish-free pods of fresh edamame in the refrigerated produce section. Even though you are judging by those fibrous, fuzzy pods, you don’t actually eat them. Instead, you pop out the beans as you would when shelling peas. At home, refrigerate the fresh pods in a perforated plastic bag for up to five days. Frozen edamame will keep for several months and is precooked, so just heat and eat.
Edamame and your health
Edamame are highly nutritious. One cup, cooked from frozen, has 189 calories, and provides nearly 17 grams of protein (34 percent of the Daily Value). What’s more, as one of the few plant sources of all essential amino acids, they’re considered a complete protein, making them a smart choice for vegetarians or anyone looking for lean protein. These little beans deliver plenty of nutrients: more than a day’s worth of folate and half the vitamin K, as well as nearly 20 percent of the Daily Value for iron and over 30 percent of recommended daily fiber intake. They even supply omega-3 fatty acids.
Cooking with edamame
Because edamame are available fresh and frozen, these little beans are quite versatile. Keep a bag of frozen, shelled edamame on hand for an easy add-in to soups, casseroles, and sautéed veggie combos. With buttery, slightly nutty flavor and firm texture, edamame don’t overpower other foods. Instead, they provide a pleasing complement to a variety of dishes, as well as adding bright green color. The classis way to nosh on edamame – popping the beans right from the pod into your mouth – isn’t the only way to get some soy joy. Try these ideas:
- Swap edamame for garbanzo beans (chickpeas) when making hummus. Edamame also sub nicely for white beans in dips and spreads.
- Use instead of kidney or red beans in chili (try half red beans, half edamame).
- Add shelled edamame to casseroles, pilaf, or any dish where you might use peas.
- Sprinkle a handful of thawed edamame onto your green salads or stir them into chicken salad, potato salad, or your favorite grain-based salads for extra protein and color.
- Sauté a succotash using edamame instead of lima beans.
- Use frozen edamame as tiny ice cubes in your green smoothies.
Are you willing to try?
This article and picture were initially published in Hannaford’s Fresh Magazine of May – June 2015. Extracts of the article were used for this posting.