Edamame are young soybeans in a pod. I loved this popular snack when I first moved to Japan as a student, as they are really cheap to buy and tasty, and go surprisingly well with beer. Generally, edamame can be found in the frozen section of Asian speciality stores or larger supermarkets. They are sold in the pod and also out of the pod. I prefer using edamame in the pod when serving as a simple snack or finger food and then using edamame out of the pod for when I’m making a dish with them.
To cook frozen pre-cooked edamame, place them in a large bowl and completely cover with boiling water. Leave for a few minutes, then drain. Fresh raw edamame should be cooked in a saucepan of boiling water for about 5 minutes and then drained.
Serve edamame with an empty bowl to dispose of the pods. Remember you can’t eat the pods! Check to see if the edamame have been pre-salted or not and then season to your liking with freshly ground sea salt.
To eat edamame simply pop the beans out of the pod using either your hands or your mouth. To add a nice kick to your cooked edamame sprinkle with shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) or just cayenne pepper.
Japanese rice is a type of short-grain rice that has to be washed in a particular way to remove the excess starch. To get the perfect bowl of rice follow the steps below. Most Japanese people leave the rice sitting in the sieve for about 15 minutes before cooking. If you don’t have time you can skip this step.
How to wash:
1. Place the measured rice in a medium-sized bowl, cover with cold water and gently rub the rice grains against each other using your hands.
2. Drain the rice, add more water and repeat two or three times until the water runs almost clear.
3. Finally place the washed rice in a sieve to drain excess water.
How to cook:
Using a rice cooker
If you have a rice cooker at home, please wash the rice as instructed above and then follow the manufacturer’s instructions to cook the rice. Generally the rice cooker will include a rice measuring cup and a measure on the inside of the rice cooker bowl to guide you on the amount of water to add.
Using a saucepan (amount given serves 4 people)
Heavy-based saucepan with a tight lid 2 cups
Japanese rice (using a measured rice cup this weighs 320g), uncooked
2½ cups cold water
1. Transfer the washed rice to the saucepan.
2. Add two and a half cups of cold water, cover and slowly bring to the boil over a medium to high heat (this takes about 10 minutes depending on the size of the saucepan and heat source).
3. Once the water is boiling, reduce to a medium to low heat and continue to cook, covered, for a further 6 minutes or until the water is fully absorbed into the rice.
4. Without lifting the lid (if possible – if the lid on the saucepan is not clear you may want to slightly lift it to check if the water is fully absorbed), remove from the heat and set aside for another 10 minutes to allow the rice to continue cooking in its own steam.
5. Use a rice spatula to gently fold the rice, then serve.
One of the secrets of the Japanese diet is “The Power of Miso Soup”. In the traditional Japanese diet miso soup accompanies every meal. Drinking miso soup will boost digestion after meals and help cleanse the body. It’s low in fat and carbohydrates, and high in protein. In addition to its health benefits miso soup makes you feel full for a longer period which stops snacking between meals. Here’s my simple miso soup to get you started on your food journey to the Japanese way of eating.
For the dashi
– 1 litre water
– Few thin strips of dried Irish kombu (kelp)
– 3 dried shiitake mushrooms
For the miso soup
– 200g savoy cabbage leaves, washed and roughly chopped
– 2–3 tbsp miso paste, depending on your own taste
– shichimi togarashi, to season (japanese seven spice)
1. Put 1 litre of cold water in a large saucepan. Add the kombu and shiitake mushrooms to the water and leave to soak for at least 30 minutes (If you have time leave to soak for a few hours or overnight in the fridge). Heat the water until it comes to the boil and then remove the kombu and mushrooms immediately.
2. Add the cabbage leaves and cook for 10 minutes.
3. Dilute the miso paste in a small cup of dashi taken from the saucepan.
4. Reduce soup to a very low heat and add the miso paste to the saucepan. Gently stir into the soup until mixed through. Taste to check if you need to add more miso paste.
5. Serve in a bowl and season with shichimi togarashi.
Store the miso soup in a flask for a work or on the go healthy lunch option.
Apart from eating them directly from the pods, there are lots of other different ways that you can use edamame, such as tossing the beans into salads and stir-fries. This recipe is one of my favourite ways to use edamame. You’ll need a pestle and mortar and a blender to make this recipe.
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
200g edamame (out of the pod)
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ clove of garlic, crushed
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons water
Freshly ground salt and pepper, to season
1. Toss the sesame seeds into a roasting tray and place in a fan oven preheated to 150ºC for about 5 minutes.
2. Using a pestle and mortar, grind the hot sesame seeds until most of them are cracked and ground.
3. Cook the edamame, then drain. If still in the pods, remove by using your fingers to gently squeeze the beans out.
4. Place the cooked edamame beans, ground sesame seeds and the remaining ingredients in a blender and blitz until the texture is nice and creamy.
5. If you think the mixture is too dry, then add a little more olive oil or water.
Making sushi at home is so much fun and has the added benefit of being more economical and super fresh. Once you follow my step by step instructions you’ll master this recipe and impress your friends and family!
2 cups Japanese rice uncooked (using a measured rice cup this weighs 320g)
100ml Japanese rice vinegar
2 tbsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1. Combine the rice vinegar and sugar in a non-aluminium saucepan and dissolve over a medium heat for a few minutes (avoid boiling). Stir in the salt, take off the heat and allow to cool.
2. To season the rice, transfer the hot cooked rice to a shallow pyrex dish with a flat base. Sprinkle the cooled sushi vinegar evenly over the rice and use a rice spatula to fold and turn the rice covering each grain in the sushi vinegar. Do this gently and take care not to break the rice grains. Use a fan or a piece of cardboard to fan the rice to cool it to room temperature as quickly as possible and absorb the excess sushi vinegar.
3. If you’re not using the sushi rice immediately then cover it with a damp cloth and store in a cool place (avoid putting it in the fridge as this will harden the rice and ideally sushi rice should be served at room temperature).