"Edamame" is the Japanese word for the delicious green soybeans that are often served as a snack or appetizer in Asian restaurants. It's easy to cook edamame at home, too. Whether steamed or lightly boiled, edamame is a nutritious and versatile snack.
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"One cup of [shelled] edamame packs 18 grams of protein," notes the Cleveland Clinic. "The even better news? Whole soy is a complete protein, which means it provides all the amino acids your body needs but can't make on its own."
Available in most grocery stores, edamame often comes fresh or frozen, either shelled or still in the pod. Keeping a bag or two of frozen edamame in the freezer allows you to prepare snacks, purees or dips from the cooked beans in minutes. You can add cooked edamame beans to salads, stir-fry recipes and soups.
Edamame is most often quick-boiled, but you will better preserve the beans' toothsome texture if you steam them to reduce their contact with water. Here's how to steam frozen edamame.
Things You'll Need
- Steamer basket or insert
- Large pot or saucepan with a tight-fitting lid
- Frozen edamame, shelled or in the pod
- Large serving bowl
- Salt, pepper, hot sauce, vinegar, teriyaki sauce, fresh ginger, minced or powdered garlic or other toppings, optional
Run about an inch of water into a large pot or saucepan, then place a steamer basket or insert inside. Make sure the water isn't so deep that it comes through the bottom of the steamer basket, or your soybeans will get mushy.
Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place the frozen edamame in the steamer basket and cover with a tight-fitting lid.
Allow the edamame to steam until tender, approximately 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
Place the steamed edamame in a large bowl and toss with your choice of seasonings, such as salt, pepper, hot sauce, vinegar, teriyaki sauce, ginger or garlic, or a squeeze of lemon.
Some health experts advise against regular soy consumption for those coping with hormone issues. "Soy is unique in that it contains a high concentration of isoflavones, a type of plant estrogen that is similar in function to human estrogen but with much weaker effects," notes the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "Soy isoflavones can bind to estrogen receptors in the body and cause either weak estrogenic or anti-estrogenic activity." However, most people can safely have soy several times a week. Talk to your doctor to see what types and amounts of soy are best for you.
Other Ways to Cook Frozen Edamame
If you prefer, you can prepare frozen edamame in the microwave. While some commercial brands are sold in microwavable bags, you can also put the edamame in a glass bowl with a small amount of water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and microwave on high until tender. Microwaving times can vary depending on the wattage of your microwave.
To boil frozen edamame, fill a large saucepan with water, add a pinch of salt and place over high heat. When the water has reached a rolling boil, put the frozen soybeans in. Once they are heated through (3 to 5 minutes), drain them and serve them hot with desired seasoning or dipping sauce.
Alternatively, you can shock the drained beans by immediately immersing them in a bowl of ice water for 2 to 3 minutes, then draining them again and serving them cold with your accompaniments of choice.
How to Eat Edamame
To eat cooked edamame beans plain, squeeze the edge of the pod between your thumb and forefinger where each bean is located. This will allow each bean to pop out of the pod and into your mouth.
You can also eat edamame as you would an artichoke petal. To do so, put the entire pod in your mouth, grasp the end between thumb and forefinger, and scrape the pod between your top and bottom teeth, biting as you go so the beans pop out.
Empty edamame pods should be discarded, as they're generally too tough to eat.
Blend shelled edamame with tahini, water, olive oil, garlic, salt and cumin for a tasty hummus-like dip.
Health Benefits of Edamame
One of edamame's biggest pluses as a snack is the protein it contains, which is equivalent to the protein found in many animal food sources. According to an analysis published in the June 27, 2019, Journal of the American Heart Association, soy protein is good for heart health: It lowers your risk of heart disease because it reduces cholesterol — especially low-density lipoproteins (LDL), aka bad cholesterol. Additionally, protein-rich snacks help you feel full longer than sugary choices, making edamame a good choice if you're trying to lose pounds or maintain a healthy weight.
Edamame is a rich source of many other nutrients as well. Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 cup of shelled edamame contains 52 percent of the daily value of vitamin K, 79 percent of the daily value of manganese, and a whopping 121 percent of the daily value of folate (vitamin B-9), based on a 2,000-calorie diet. As the Mayo Clinic explains, "folate is important in red blood cell formation and for healthy cell growth and function."
Each cup of edamame also contains more than 8 grams of dietary fiber, important for healthy bowels and controlling blood sugar levels.
- The New York Times: Snacks Worth Their Salt
- ABC News: 9 Super-Healthy, Vegetarian Protein Sources
- Cleveland Clinic: "13 of the Best Vegetarian and Vegan Protein Sources"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Straight Talk About Soy"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: "Edamame, Frozen, Prepared"
- Mayo Clinic: "Folate (Folic Acid)"