Hot soy can be so cool
"Mom, you've got to try edamame."
It was my son, Andy. He was calling me from Texas where he was a senior in college. That was seven years ago. I had no idea what he was talking about. Was he learning a new exotic language?
"Just boil them and sprinkle them with salt. They taste great."
Oh, so he was talking about something edible. Apparently, he had prepared them in a gourmet foods class he was taking at Texas Christian University. He said it was a healthful, easy-to-make snack. And he liked edamame a lot.
After doing some research, I was able to gather some information about edamame.
You'd think after growing up in Minnesota and living in North Dakota for more than 20 years, I would have at least heard of these fresh, green edible soybeans that look a lot like peas in a pod. Farmers in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota have been filling their fields with the leafy green bean plants for years. The acres of crops have increased over time as new uses have been found for the beans and consumers have become more familiar with some health benefits of soy products.
Plump, sweet and tender, edamame (pronounced ed-uh-MAH-may) are quickly gaining popularity as they become the most exciting soy product to hit restaurants and grocery stores.
These quick-cooking soybeans have a mild, nutty flavor and a distinct texture that is pleasant and buttery. Edamame are chockful of vitamins, minerals and protein. They offer a substantial helping of fiber, too. They are filling, making them great food for anyone on an eating plan to lose weight, and of all beans, they are the easiest to digest.
The first time I perused the freezer case in search of edamame, I bought beans that were already removed from the pod. My son did not tell me I needed to use whole pods to recreate his snack. The beans, out of their pods, can be boiled and tossed into salads and pasta or mashed to make a dip or a spread. But edamame, the whole pod, can make a delicious and healthful appetizer or snack.
I ordered Wok-Fried Edamame at an Asian restaurant, recently. The appetizer came to the table hot. Fiery hot. Lip-numbing hot. And they were not only delicious, they were fun to eat.
You might call it a full-body experience. Dig in with your fingers, raise the pod to your lips and slurp the sauce off as it enters your mouth. Then, just suck out the beans. And have a cool beverage close by. Maybe some Kleenex, too. Your clearing sinuses will cause a dripping nose. Any post-slurping suffering will be well worth it, though.
My take on the spicy edamame is not as fiery as those I ate at the restaurant.
You will find edamame in the freezer case in well-stocked supermarkets, specialty markets and natural food/health food stores. Be sure to buy edamame whole pods. Don't try to eat the pods. Leave a few chile pepper seeds in the hot appetizer if you like a lot of heat.
Spicy Pan-Tossed Edamame are pretty hot, but very cool as an appetizer or snack!
Spicy Pan-Tossed Edamame
1 (10-ounce to 14.5-ounce) bag frozen edamame whole pods, preferably organic
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons peanut or canola oil, divided
2 jalapeño or Serrano chile peppers, seeds removed and minced
2-inch piece of fresh gingerroot, peeled, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 large cloves of garlic)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons oyster flavored sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add frozen edamame. Bring back to a boil and cook the edamame for about 4 minutes. Taste one to check the cooked texture. The edamame should be a bit firm to the bite. Use a slotted spoon or a sieve to remove edamame from water, transferring to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the edamame and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon peanut oil or canola oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add edamame and sauté until they are heated through and beginning to turn brown. Push edamame to the side of the pan. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of peanut or canola oil along with minced chile peppers. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add gingerroot and garlic, cooking for another 30 seconds.
Stir in soy sauce, oyster sauce and sesame oil. Cook until liquid reduces and thickens slightly. It will probably take less than a minute. Toss edamame with the sauce. Squeeze some lemon juice over the top. Turn into a shallow dish. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve immediately with plenty of napkins on the side.
Serves 2-4 as an appetizer.
Tips from the cook
--Oyster-flavored sauce and sesame oil can be found in the international aisle with the Asian food in supermarkets. Of course, Asian markets also carry these products. Once opened, store both in the refrigerator.
--For Spicy Pan-Tossed Edamame with more heat, include some of the chile pepper seeds during preparation. That's the way I like it best. Then, have the cool beverages handy.
--I used a large (12-inch) cast-iron pan for making Spicy Pan-Tossed Edamame. Any large heavy skillet, or even a wok, will work fine.