Edamame (pronounced ed-ah-mah-may) is a young soybean pod, picked when they’re a beautiful green color and edible, but not fully ripened. They’re generally sold frozen, in one pound bags, with nothing added (no salt or any other ingredients). Sometimes they’re available fresh, but most of us will find them in the frozen section of the market. The pods resemble pea pods, and usually have two to three beans inside. Edamame are a nutritious source of protein, fiber, vitamins and iron, and they’re an inexpensive and delicious snack or light meal.
To cook them, fill a large pot with water and add about 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring the water to a full boil and then put the entire bag of whole edamame pods in. You’ll notice that the pods sink to the bottom, but quickly, they’ll begin to all bob to the surface. Boil for about 3 minutes, remove from the heat and drain them in a colander. If you are boiling fresh – not frozen – pods, boil them for about 7 minutes. Keep the pods intact; don’t remove the seeds.
Sprinkle them with good quality sea salt and serve with plenty of lime wedges. My daughter tosses hers with a little butter. I prefer mine with just lime juice and salt. Eat them by holding a pod to your mouth (kind of like holding a harmonica) squeezing the pods between your teeth until the tender seeds pop out. Only the seeds are eaten and the pods are discarded.
They’re delicious with crusty bread or pita chips, or just by themselves.
Other ways to enjoy edamame: the seeds can be removed from the pods after they’re boiled and mixed with other seasonal vegetables (such as roasted corn kernels, chopped red bell pepper, halved cherry tomatoes) and served as a side dish. Add cooked pasta to the cooked edamame seeds, chopped fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, grated carrots, chopped red pepper, a little grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil for a delicious pasta salad. The cooked seeds can be combined with cooked rice, chopped cooked chicken, sautéed red bell peppers and a little soy sauce. Or you could cook a pound of edamame for about 15 minutes until they’re very soft, and purée the seeds with 4 ounces of a mild soft, fresh cheese (such as goat cheese, soft feta, or brie), 1/2 teaspoon of dill, the juice of a lemon and a little salt to make a delicious dip.