A sucker for edamame

GRAHAM HAWKES
Last updated 10:29 24/07/2014
Edamame
NICOLE JOHNSTONE/Fairfax NZ
Podded edamame can be enjoyed as is, with a sauce, or in stir-fry, rice and pasta dishes.

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One of our family's favourite "snack" foods is the Japanese named edamame. Generally we enjoy them served in the pod, simply poached, salted then dipped in a delightful mixture of soy sauce and wasabi.

We also enjoy the podded edamame beans in a salad or added to a stir-fry, rice and pasta dishes or simply on their own, tossed in a little ginger, garlic and some sauces to enhance them a little more.

Edamame is the Japanese name for soya beans. The word itself means beans on branches and, funnily enough, they do grow in clusters on bushy branches. They have been around for some time with the earliest documentation of them dating back to the year 1275 when the Japanese monk Nichiren wrote a note thanking a parishioner for the gift of "edamame" he had left at the temple.

During the Edo period, edamame appeared in the Haikai verse. It appears the earliest recorded usage in the English language was in a journal of folklore studies back in 1951. The Oxford English dictionary included edamame for the first time in 2003 with the Miriam-Webster dictionary of the United States first entering the word in 2008.

While generally found in Japanese cuisine, edamame are also included in the cuisines of Taiwan, China, Indonesia and Hawaii. They have also become a very popular item made available in health food shops.

To prepare edamame in the shell as a snack it is best to simply poach them in salted water using around half a tablespoon of salt per 500 grams of edamame pods. Firstly bring the salted water to a rolling boil then turn down so it is at a simmer adding the beans, allowing the water to return to the boil, turn down to simmer and then simmer for 4-5 minutes. Once you have achieved that, dump the entire contents of the pot through a colander and allow to drain in a sink taking care as there will be quite a lot of steam coming from the colander.

The next step is optional. We add more salt as that is the way we prefer them, then allow to cool, placing them in the refrigerator for an hour or so once they have come down in temperature.

For a dipping sauce we like to add half a teaspoon of pre-mixed wasabi to a tablespoon of soya sauce and when well mixed simply drizzle over the salted edamame. Now to enjoy simply place the edamame in your mouth and suck out the beans then discard the pods.

Edamame are also very useful as a side dish both in the shell and podded. Let's have a look at a couple of methods of serving either of these starting with the shelled edamame.

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EDAMAME

1 x pack of frozen shelled edamame soy beans, thawed (450g)
2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 medium onion, peeled and roughly diced
2 tsp peeled, crushed and chopped garlic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over a medium heat, adding the onions and the garlic and saute until transparent without colouring.

2. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and continue sauteing for a further 2-3 minutes.

3. Add the thawed edamame beans and continue to saute for 4-5 minutes until the edamame are heated through and the onion is tender.

4. Serve as a vegetable with any suitable meat dish or add to a stir-fry or pasta.

SAUTE EDAMAME IN THEIR PODS (4-6 servings)

1 bag (450g) edamame in the pods
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp soya sauce
A pinch of crushed red chilli flakes
2 Tbsp water
1 tsp soya oil
1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/4 tsp freshly crushed and chopped garlic

1. Cook the edamame in the pods using the above instructions. Drain then pat dry in paper towels and set aside.

2. Whisk the brown sugar, soya sauce and water in a small bowl and set aside.

3. Place the sesame oil, ginger and garlic in a heavy-based pan on medium heat, allowing it to sizzle for about 30 seconds.

4. Then add the brown sugar, soya sauce and chilli flakes and water mixture, letting the sauce bubble gentle over a medium to medium-low heat until the sauce thickens and reduces to about 2 tablespoons (this will take 4-5 minutes).

5. Stir the sauce frequently while cooking, ensuring the sugar and the sauce does not burn.

6. Once the sauce is thickened add the boiled edamame and toss well. The sauce should be thick enough to coat and stick to the edamame.

7. Enjoy by again placing the edamame in your mouth and suck out the beans while enjoying the flavour of the sauce.

Note: Countdown Waikiwi have shelled edamame in the vegetable section of the freezer. The Asian shop on the corner of Tay and Nith streets have edamame in the shell.

Graham Hawkes operates Paddington Arms at the Queens Dr/Bainfield Rd roundabout.

- The Southland Times

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