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Day 27: Edamame
Edamame are definitely more of a snack than a whole dish. They’re something to nibble on before you main meal arrives, share with your friends, or eat with a few beers after work. And that’s why I love them so much.
Edamame (or edamame beans, as they’re sometimes called) are made from soybeans that haven’t ripened yet. They’re picked straight off the plant and the individual beans are left in their pod. The only thing that is cut off is the pod’s stem.
Now, if you’re expecting some kind of complicated description on how to prepare them, I’ve got some bad news. They are extremely easy to cook.
Once you have these raw and unripened pods of soybeans, all you do is steam, boil or microwave them. That’s right – I said microwave. And that’s all you have to do.
Normally they are served with salt because it helps bring out the flavour but they can also be eaten just plain. The salt is normally put over the outer pod which you don’t actually eat, though.
You just pop out the individual beans and that’s it. Sometimes the beans are cooked in salted water to achieve the same effect.
Because edamame comes from such a plentiful source and are easy to prepare, they’re also very cheap. At Japan’s bars, there might be a mark-up to make a profit but if you buy them from the supermarket, like this box I got, it shouldn’t cost more than 200 yen (US$2.00). In fact, this one cost just 198 yen.
The other great thing about edamame is that they’re really healthy and good for you. The beans are rich in carbohydrates, protein, fibre, folates, manganese and vitamin K. I’m not sure what all those things do for you, but I’m told it’s good.
In Japan, you don’t see edamame a lot. It is common enough but it’s not the kind of thing that everyone eats every time they go out to a restaurant or a bar. But you won’t have any trouble finding them and they’re definitely a great idea for a snack.