16 Tips You Need When Cooking With Edamame
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16 Tips You Need When Cooking With Edamame

Jul 07, 2023

East Asia has gifted the world with a plethora of culinary treasures. India's curry might be the closest thing to liquid gold, while South Korea's kimchi could be the silver lining for which you're looking. One of the more popular ingredients from the continent, however, might be edamame.

Not to be confused with snap peas, edamame is soybeans that haven't matured yet. The beans come encased in a green pod that's inedible but can be utilized during the cooking process. Unlike mature soybeans, edamame can't be used to make soy-based products like tofu, tempeh, or soy sauce.

That aside, it's a delicious and dynamic snack in itself. Safe and secure inside the vibrant green pod are nutty, creamy beans loaded with nutrients. In fact, according to Everyday Health, edamame is considered a "complete protein," which means it has every essential amino acid your body needs. These tiny legumes aren't only healthy for you, they are a low-maintenance snack that can be enjoyed solo, or as part of a laundry list of tasty recipes.

As a versatile ingredient, you may be unaware of the multitude of crave-worthy ways edamame can be prepared. Along with taste, it has so much to offer. Below, a list of tips you need when cooking with edamame.

While flattery will get you everywhere, flatulence might stop you dead in your tracks. Sadly, or humorously, when it comes to beans, it's impossible to completely avoid the magic of the fruit. As a member of the legume family, consuming edamame can give you emissions as well. With a little prep work though, there is a way to reduce the build-up of gas.

Edamame can be consumed raw, but in an uncooked state, it's harder to digest, causes bloating, and contains phytic acid, which according to Healthline, inhibits the body from absorbing essential minerals.

Another red flag-characteristic of raw edamame is that they contain canavanine, which can be toxic to humans in higher doses according to the Encyclopedia of Health and Food. You should soak raw edamame overnight before cooking to lower the natural sugar it produces called oligosaccharide, which can't be broken down by the human body. Those stuck in a time crunch can quicken the process by boiling the beans for a few minutes, rinsing them clean, then cooking them in fresh water.

After you've pre-soaked raw edamame, cook them how you please. Boiling is one super simple way to give beans the perfect tender consistency. It's important to note that only raw edamame should be boiled; the frozen variety is pre-cooked and can quickly become overly mushy. Take out a pot and fill it with some water. Next, sprinkle copious amounts of salt until it's seawater-like. Raw edamame should always be boiled in the pod.

The reason for using lots of salt is that raw edamame pods have thick skin, which makes it hard for salt to reach the actual beans. The shell absorbs and traps salt water inside, tenderizing the beans within. The entire process should take no longer than five minutes. The beans will continue to cook a bit after being removed from the boiling water. You'll want to rinse them with cold water to halt the cooking process — consistency-wise, you're looking for a nice balance between tender and al dente.

As you're impatiently waiting for what seems like an eternity to quell your cravings with some tasty edamame, you might as well learn this nifty tip for even more flavor.

Before tossing the pods into the pot to boil, snip the tips of the shells. In doing so, you allow the salt-filled water to flavor the beans. This easy "tip-snip" tip also works for sautéing and stir-frying. With the water coming into direct contact with the bean, boiling edamame this way will shave off a couple of minutes of cook time.

Like water, oil infused with seasoning and spices can enhance the experience as well. Edamame has a mild earthy, nutty flavor that takes well to other notes. After the pod has absorbed its limit of deliciousness and you're ready to dig in, eating it directly from the shell will be like biting into a nutritious explosion. Or you can skip the tasty theatrics and remove the beans from the shells before enjoying.

Because edamame doesn't carry an overly pronounced taste, there's room to be creative with how you season it. You may only need to invite salt to the party in order to have a good time, but having other guests along will surely spice things up. One common way to take things up a zesty notch is by adding rice vinegar with sea salt. You can access another level of savory by frying the edamame with chopped garlic and parmesan, or you can circle back to "zestville" and try cooking it with lemon, lime, or orange peel shavings.

If looking to add some kick to it, try pan-frying the edamame with sriracha sauce. As you might imagine, classic Asian condiments were made to perfectly pair with edamame. It really all boils down to imagination — if you season it, they will come. With endless combinations, you'll never run out of ways to flavor up edamame.

Although edamame comes in a pod like so many varieties of legumes, unlike snap peas or green beans, its outer shell is inedible. According to Britannica, edamame was originally sold in-shell with its stem still attached. The stem acted as a tiny handle that made the beans easier to consume while walking. In fact, prior to the introduction of beef to Japan, locals primarily got their protein from fish and soybeans. Even though it isn't technically bad for you, edamame shells aren't okay to eat.

The shells are tough and require lots of rigorous chewing. Ultimately, the beans contain the nutrients. Edamame shells do serve a purpose though, typically during the cooking process. If you'd like to keep the beans in the pods, simply squeeze and suck them out, then discard the empty shell. The very act of eating edamame beans from the pod feels like a ritual, a fun way to consume a nutritious treat.

Incorrectly defrosting food can lead to an odd consistency and watery results. The same can be said for edamame.

Many people enjoy purchasing frozen edamame over the fresh kind because of its easy preparation and extended shelf life, yet they require a different approach for preparation. Raw edamame can be boiled without prep, but frozen edamame (which is pre-cooked) will overcook when boiled. There are four ways to effectively defrost frozen edamame: on the countertop, in the microwave, overnight in the fridge, or in a bowl of cold water.

The best method depends on the amount of patience and time available. Use the countertop if you have a couple hours to spare. If you're not using the edamame that same day, you can defrost it overnight in the fridge. Those in a time-pinch can quickly defrost their edamame in minutes with a microwave and a little water. One additional way to defrost is by soaking the frozen edamame for 30 minutes in a bowl of cold water.

Edamame beans are best enjoyed when the consistency balances perfectly between tender and al dente. If you squeeze a single bean between your fingers, it shouldn't easily turn into messy mush. Even if you're going for a spread-like consistency, it's better to mash the beans after cooking them properly. Overcooking vegetables removes the good stuff, which defeats the purpose of consuming them. According to Sutter Health, when exposed to high temperatures, water-soluble vitamins and minerals begin to lose nutrients.

That's why it's important to defrost frozen edamame properly before cooking it. When ready to toss them in to boil, make sure that the water is salted liberally — the salt will help bring out the bean's natural earthy and nutty flavor. One pound of edamame should take no more than five minutes to boil. It's ready when the outer shell turns a vibrant bright green color. Once done cooking, drain, plate, and serve.

If you thought edamame was only made for the stovetop and oven, think again. Grilled edamame is a great smokey snack, and your barbecues won't be the same after you serve a platter to guests. Charred and skewered, grilled edamame is a great protein alternative to a meat-heavy affair.

First things first, make sure you have soaked wooden or metal skewers on hand. Next, thread six to eight edamame shells per skewer and rub them with deliciously nutty sesame oil.

After they're skewered and ready to go, place the edamame shells on the grill over medium heat and close the lid. Let them cook for six to eight minutes, flipping them halfway through. Once cooked, sprinkle with sesame seeds, salt to taste, kick them in the trot, and you're off to the races. You'll want to add grilled edamame to the menu for many barbecues to come.

Enjoying cuisine from another country is a step towards experiencing a foreign culture; another is consuming it in the traditional style of its homeland. A common piece of cookware used in Asia is the bamboo steam basket, or simply, bamboo steamer. It's composed of stackable baskets that interlock and can be sealed with a lid. Once filled and sealed, the stack of bamboo baskets are placed atop a wok or pot of simmering water.

Steam rising from the wok or water seeps into the basket openings, gradually cooking the contents inside as it moves through each wooden container. Bamboo steamers are used for a wide range of foods. They're not only great for steaming edamame but are commonly used for dumplings, buns, other vegetables, rice, and more. Another fun fact is that bamboo steamers don't collect condensation, which can alter the taste of food when dripping. You can easily find bamboo steamers for less than $20, and then recreate a bit of the authentic Asian experience at home.

Just because you're pressed for time doesn't mean you have to sacrifice the quality of the food you eat. With the right cooking method, you can churn out the same satisfying results in minutes that might otherwise take hours. For example — and it may come as no surprise — a microwave is the quickest way to cook edamame pods. While the method is fairly straightforward, there are some things to keep in mind beyond simply pressing buttons.

Before beginning, make sure that you use only bowls that are microwave-safe and have a secure lid. If your lid is lost in "the Tupperware cabinet of no return," a plate can work just as well. Add a couple tablespoons of water to the bowl, followed by the frozen edamame shells. Now put the lid on and place the container in the microwave for no more than 4 minutes. In a blink of an eye, the shells will be steamy, succulent, and ready to enjoy.

Sometimes, steaming just doesn't hit the spot; at times like these, more of a kick in the flavor department is required. That's when it's time to pull out the tried and true pan-fry method. Along with a savory char, pan frying is great for seasoning edamame with more than salt or merely cooking it with sauce. It's a method that works for both fresh and frozen edamame alike.

When pan-frying edamame, first prepare a selection of seasonings or sauce blend — soy sauce, red pepper flakes, and garlic is a popular go-to. With that blend ready, put the pan on high heat and add sesame oil. Cook the edamame shells for a couple of minutes until they blacken a bit on either side. After a char forms, add the seasoning or sauce and simmer for another 3 minutes. Lastly, spare no hesitation, serve, and enjoy.

Nutrition isn't typically associated with fried foods, but thankfully, air fryers permit the tasty benefits of both worlds. From meats to veggies, air fryers are great for many foods; edamame just happens to be on that list too. What's great about them is that you can use frozen or ready-to-eat edamame, just make sure it's the shelled kind. If using frozen, remember to always thaw before cooking.

Air frying edamame only takes 10 minutes and requires a handful of ingredients: edamame, the seasoning of your choice, lemon or lime juice, oil, and salt. Before placing it inside the air dryer, make sure to pat the edamame dry with a lint-free towel. Next, thoroughly hand-toss the shells with seasoning and oil . Set the air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and shake the basket a couple times during to make sure it all cooks evenly.

To satisfy cravings for a crispy and crunchy snack, try oven-roasted edamame. An easy grocery store-find, roasted edamame is also one of the best on-to-go treats to easily make at home. Whether solo, as a side to dumplings, or salad topper, there are endless ways to enjoy it. Experiment with different seasoning blends — edamame tastes great with pretty much everything — but you can never go wrong with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.

To oven-roast edamame, start by preparing a baking sheet with oil spray or parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Before you begin cooking, make sure to remove moisture from the outer shells by patting them with a lint-free cloth or folding them into a paper towel. Next, toss them with seasoning and oil, then bake for 15-18 minutes, flipping occasionally so that the beans cook evenly. If cooking more than two and a half cups, extend the cooking time a bit.

Another way to add crunchy pizzaz to edamame is with the popular Japanese tempura method. Introduced to the country by the Portuguese (according to the Michelin Guide), tempura is a process of coating foods with flour and frying them. The technique was developed over several generations, resulting in different approaches to tempura. In Nagasaki, where Japan's tempura is said to have originated, the flour is mixed with sugar and sake, pre-seasoned, and fried in lard. On the other hand, in Kyoto and Osaka, where Buddhism is prevalent, vegetables are typically only used for tempura.

Tempura is great as a pre-dinner starter or the side to a main course. With a bit of practice, it's fairly easy to make too. The base of the batter consists of eggs, flour, and water, yet can be mixed with sugar or sake in the Nagasaki-style as well. Unlike other batter mixtures, clumps here and there are okay — and actually ideal for holding the edamame beans in place. Deep-frying them should take no more than three to five minutes on each side.

From steamed and succulent to fried and fulfilling, edamame is a versatile ingredient with endless potential. Along with enjoying the bean as is, it can also be mashed into a healthy spread, or blended into a nutritious purée. In its puréed form, edamame can even become a crave-worthy soup. Colorfully green, rich, and creamy, edamame soup is the plant-based tummy-filler you didn't know you needed in your life. When it comes to taste and "good-for-you-ness," this soup is hard to beat.

The ingredients are minimal, mainly requiring just sesame seed oil, shallots, garlic, and vegetable broth infused with a bit of soy sauce. Keep a few slices of bread toasted and dunk-ready, as you'll no doubt find it hard to stop dipping. A short thirty minutes is all you need to whip together this savory soup. Who knows? Instead of tomato soup, edamame soup may be your new go-to. Enjoy it alone, with chicken, or salad.

You'll always remember the day that you first introduced butter and garlic to edamame. It's a savory spell you'll inevitably fall under after trying.

Butter is known for its flavor-enhancing abilities, and it has the same delicious effect on edamame. The two pair well, sharing a similar nuttiness, yet carry distinct complementary characteristics. Butter boosts the creaminess, providing a canvas for the garlic and salt to color, while the grassy notes of edamame balance out the piquant kick of garlic.

When sautéing edamame, use the frozen variety — just make sure to properly thaw them before cooking. Add them to a pan or wok with butter and cook for five minutes, then drizzle some savory soy sauce for additional flavor. Lastly, add the chopped garlic. Sautéing takes only minutes but requires a watchful eye. You'll know it's finished when the outer shell appears tender, and the smell is robust. Once finished, plate it, sprinkle the seasoning of your choice, and enjoy a new and improved day.