Friday, April 10, 2009

Spiced Edamame

The first time I traveled across the country I was in my 20s and was driving a commercial van that had been retrofitted to be a camper. I had great dreams of cooking my healthy hippie food out in the wild on my little propane stove.

The very first night I decided--with what I now know to be absurd naivete--to make a big pot of soybeans. This was going to last for the whole journey.

Let's just say that round about 1 in the morning I gave up waiting for the soybeans to get soft enough to eat...ever. I put the pot of beans outside, under the van, and in the middle of the night some snuffling beast came along and overturned the pot.

Interestingly, the beast didn't want to eat the soybeans either. In spite of many hours of cooking, they were still like little pellets of plastic.

This is why I resisted for years trying edamame, which are young soybeans. I was imagining that they would be just as intractable as their older, dried counterparts. I'm glad I finally caved in, because I am now quite an edamame fan. The trick is in the flavoring you use when you cook them. Salt is a must, because even though edamame are tender, they are still on the bland side. And in the recipe below, I upped the ante a bit.

Spiced Edamame
The addition of fresh garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and red pepper flakes takes edamame out of the ordinary.

3 quarts water
4 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
2 large strips of lemon zest, cut into thin slivers
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt, preferably Hawaiian
2 bags (10 ounces each) frozen edamame
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a large pot, combine the water, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon of the sea salt. Bring to a boil and cook, partially covered for 3 minutes. Add the frozen edamame, let the water come back to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Drain well and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt and the lemon juice and toss well.

Makes 8 servings

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