It makes a great appetizer when you’re out for sushi or a nutrient-packed salad topper, but what exactly is edamame? Technically, it’s a type of soybean, but not the same kind you see growing in your neighbor’s fields.
Protein Packaged in a Pod
Edamame is a specialty breed of soybean harvested while the plant is young and the beans are soft. It originated in China but is known today as a traditional Japanese vegetable. While edamame may look like your average snap pea, they aren’t eaten or grown like one. The beans of edamame are edible, but the pods are discarded. To eat edamame, you can simply steam them whole and pop them straight from the pod to your mouth or use shelled edamame like green peas or lima beans in any recipe.
The sweet, nutty-tasting beans provide a powerful punch of protein: 18 grams per cup! That little cup also contains 8 grams of fiber and vitamins such as calcium and iron, all in only 188 calories.
Not Your Neighbor’s Soybean
While edamame is a type of soybean, they’re not what you see when driving through South Dakota fields. Our farmers are pros at growing field-grade soybeans used for things like animal feed and biodiesel, an environmentally friendly fuel. These are different than food-grade soybeans, which have higher protein content and are meticulously managed and inspected throughout their life. Edamame is an even more specific type that has been selected over time for flavor, seed size and digestibility. While you may not see edamame grown in the Upper Midwest, you can find other food-grade soybeans used to make tofu and soy milk in the fields of North Dakota and Minnesota.
Four Ways to Eat Edamame
New to the edamame game? Here are four ways to harness the superfood’s health benefits in your own kitchen:
- Add salt: Buy fresh or frozen edamame pods, add some salt to a large pot of water and boil them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they’re bright green. Drain the water, sprinkle with more salt to taste and squeeze them out of the pod as you snack.
- Toss in stir fry: Add edamame beans to your stir fry for additional protein and enhanced flavor.
- Puree into dip: Puree edamame into delicious, healthy dips with a hummus-like texture. Give it a try with this recipe.
- Top off salad: Add satisfying texture to your next salad with edamame beans.
Hungry for Truth is an initiative about food and farming funded by the South Dakota soybean checkoff. The goal is to connect South Dakotans with the farmers who grow and raise their food.