Soybeans in the pod. ”Edamame." (lit. "branch beans"). エダマメ、枝豆。
These boiled beans in their fuzzy green pods are a delicious appetizer with beer and other drinks. Typical izakaya food. The pods are dusted in salt, which transfers to the beans when you take them out of the pod (the pods are not to be eaten!). The down-covered pods contain 2-3 beans each. Used to be a typical herald of summer and beer gardens, but is now available in supermarkets and izakaya around the year.
Fun to eat: squeeze out the beans directly into your mouth. Healthier than peanuts or potato chips as edamame contain a lot of protein, vitamin A, B, C and calcium, while being low-fat and low-cholesterol. Edamame also help to break down alcohol. The only "negative" aspect is that in izakaya they may be too salty - on purpose, to make customers thirsty!
Sources outside Japan: Japanese food stores sell frozen edamame, fresh ones are more difficult to obtain. In Japan sold as stalks with the pods attached, but also "ready to eat" in supermarkets and convenience stores.
Preservation: fresh ones 2-3 days in the refrigerator. Quickly looses freshness, so good to eat soon.
Preparation: parboil the fresh pods 3-5 min in salted boiling water; frozen pods 2-3 min. Drain and dry. Dust with salt.
Serving: serve as finger food in a basket or a bowl. Provide containers for empty pods.
[Photo by Ad Blankestijn]