The first recorded mention of the word “Edamame” is in a thank you note from the Buddhist saint Nichiren Shí´nin in 1275 to a parishioner who left him the snack. Nichiren Shí´nin was the founder of the Nichiren Shu branch of Buddhism.
When the people of his native Japan where plagued by typhoons and political strife, he wrote Treatise on Spreading Peace Throughout the Country by Establishing Righteousness by which he converted many to his faith in the Lotus Sutra. He also consequently suffered political persecution and exile.
Edamame means “twig-bean” in Japanese and it is the fresh pod of the soybean plant. Soy is the highly versatile and productive plant known throughout the world and brought to the American colonies by Ben Franklin. In 1904, chemist George Washington Carver discovered that soy was a valuable source of both protein and oil. Edamame, unlike the field soy plant, was developed as a tender shell bean meant to be cooked, seasoned, and then shelled like a peanut. This unfermented soy food has long been a delicious appetizer in Asia and is now popular in the U.S..
Seventy percent of the Edamame sold here is imported, but the fresh pods in our east coast TakeHome cases are organically grown in the USA. Roasted in piquant spices, smothered in herbs, or blended into a hummus, Edamame may be enjoyed so many ways. Its valuable nutrients include protein (28g per cup) and it is high in manganese, Omega 3s, and Isoflavone as well.
Preparation: Put Edamame pods into boiling water or a steamer for a few minutes. Remove. Sprinkle with salt and serve. Just pop open the pod and eat the bean. Discard shell. Repeat.
Freshly harvested veggies always taste best eaten as soon as possible. Pods may be kept in clamshell container in the fridge. Use fresh pods within three days or shell and freeze the beans for later use.
- Heidi Lewis