Sweet Sesame Edamame
Last week was a bit light on posts. I was still feeling a bit under the weather, despite my best efforts to ignore the fact that I was sick and pretend that everything in the world was as it should be. We had a death in the family, work was a zoo, and doctor’s appointments were complemented by veterinary appointments for one of our cats who reminded us that it was time to get him neutered – by starting to spray. Fetid, foul cat spray. Usually on clean laundry, likely on purpose. It wasn’t a great week.
But this week is looking better already, because:
- Magnum is getting his snip-snip tomorrow, which will likely reduce our laundry demands by half.
- I’ve stopped hacking up chunks of valuable internal organs that I would really rather keep someplace that I can use them.
- For the first time in months I have no close friends or family in the hospital.
- I got an oil change on the weekend. I don’t know why I feel that this is a relevant point which should be shared. It’s possible that I’m grasping at straws.
Anyway, we’re back on the wagon and I did a nice big grocery shop on Saturday, so our fridge is no longer a barren shell that houses 17 half jars of pickles and an assortment of fancy moutardes. Whee!!! Maybe THIS will be the week when Wednesday night dinner doesn’t consist of peanut butter sandwiches….maybe. Although I make no guarantees.
So let’s talk SOY. The first time that I had edamame was at a sushi restaurant where a small bowl of boiled and salted pods were brought for us to munch as we chose the rest of our dishes. I assumed that it was like any other pea pod, popped it into my mouth, and proceeded to chew…and chew….and chew and chew, eventually pulling the tough, fibrous hairy remains out from between my teeth. Classy is NOT my middle name. My companion thought that this little gaffe was hilarious, and waited until I had tried unsuccessfully to eat three more pods in the same way before she explained to me that this was not the way to go about things. So I watched and learned as she popped the pod into her mouth, gently bit the end with her teeth, and pulled it out – effectively scraping out the peas and tender meat of the pod. Aaaaaaahhh, alright then! Just like an artichoke! She looked at me blankly. I guess we can all stand to learn a new thing or two.
If you’re not familiar with edamame, it’s just a young soybean – nothing scary there, I promise. Traditional preparation of edamame is just to boil the whole pods in salted water and enjoy them as a snack, or to shell out the peas use them in soups, salads, purees, or just about anywhere that you would use a fava or baby lima bean. The pods themselves are tough and slightly hairy, which means that they’re difficult to digest unless you’re bovine in nature and have an extra stomach or two…in which case I’m a little bit jealous. For the rest of us mere mortals, leave the tough and stringy bits alone. The tender parts of the exterior can be scraped and digested, and the beans inside are packed full of protein and fiber. So if you’re looking for a salty snack to munch on in front of the telly, maybe one that hasn’t been deep fried in lard, these beauties are for you.
Sweet Sesame Edamame
Serves 4-6 as a snack
- 1 lb fresh or frozen unshelled edamame
- 3 tbsp golden corn syrup *
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1.5 tsp toasted white sesame seeds **
- 1.5 tsp black sesame seeds ***
- coarse sea salt
* Use honey if you prefer, but cut back the amount to 1.5-2 tbsp because honey tends to be a bit sweeter.
** My preference is for toasted sesame seeds because the nutty flavor is so much more pronounced. However, raw and unfettered is a-ok as well.
*** I know, I’m demanding. If you don’t have black sesame seeds, double up on the white ones.
The best place to find edamame is either at a natural foods store or an Asian market. As usual, I opted for the Asian market because I’m a cheapskate and they’re roughly a third of the price charged at a health food store. If the beans are fresh then you can assume that they’re raw. If the edamame is frozen, check to see whether they are cooked and ready to eat or not. After all, if they’ve already been boiled or steamed once, doing it again is a waste of time and the pods will fall apart.
Bring a pot of well salted water to a boil (a bit more salt than you would add to pasta water – the amount of salt will depend on the size of your pot). Add the uncooked edamame pods and boil them for 6-8 minutes until they’re tooth-tender and easily split, but not falling apart. My pods were frozen, so about 7.5 minutes did the trick just splendidly. Fresh pods will take slightly less time.
As soon as the pods are tender, take them out of the salted water and plunge them into an ice bath (a bowl of cold water with ice in it) to stop the cooking process.
While the edamame pods cool, whisk together the corn syrup, vinegar and sesame oil.
Drain the cooled pods and spread them out on a clean tea towel (or paper towel) to dry for 5-10 minutes. If the pods are still wet when you toss them in the dressing, well, it won’t stick and you’ll lose all that sweet sesame flavor. Don’t be that person. If you’re worried that the pods still seem rather moist, dab them with another towel until they feel mostly dry to the touch.
Toss the soy beans with the dressing and season them quite liberally with coarse sea or kosher salt. Sprinkle on the sesame seeds, and you have yourself a snack.
I like edamame because it’s a snack that you kind of have to work for. Although that’s a quality that upsets me in an entree, it works out delightfully for a snack that you want to casually munch on for long periods of time…like a Sunday night Coronation Street marathon, for example. Anything that can be measured in handfulls and tossed into the mouth as-is usually appeals less to me for snacking, because I’ll eat the whole bowl in 5 minutes and then feel slightly ill for an hour or so. Sometimes you need food that helps you to help yourself.
Cheap, cheerful, full of fiber and protein – how can you go wrong? I mean, salty, sweet, sesame and snacking. Those are four great things that go great together.
See? You may not believe me, but occasionally I DO make food that isn’t smothered in melted cheese. Not often, granted, but once in a while it doesn’t hurt to tip your hat to The Heart & Stroke Foundation.
Now if you’ll pardon me, I need to go find out whether Liam tells Maria about cheating on her with that evil whore Carla, and David is about to meet his homosexual surprise grandfather. This may take a while.