Learn how to cook edamame like a pro in the authentic Japanese way. Bring to life your next snack, appetizer or side dish with Japanese restaurant style edamame!
How to Cook Edamame
I just love edamame, and will show you how to cook edamame like Japanese restaurants. My mother often included it as an appetizer with our meals when I was growing up. And I come back to it again and again.
You may have tried edamame as an appetizer at a Japanese restaurant. Perfectly well cooked and salted edamame is an excellent start to a meal.
It’s the perfect snack, appetizer or side dish. But there’s no need to wait to you go to a Japanese restaurant! I want to bring edamame recipes into your home cooking.
It’s super tasty and surprisingly filling. Your family and friends will love it! And if you’re looking for a sneaky way to get your kids to eat something really healthy without knowing it, edamame is your friend.
I’ll show you how to cook edamame beans like a pro! You’ll be an edamame master in no time. It’s simple, quick, and oh so tasty! And you get to enjoy this Japanese super food whenever you like at home!
How to cook edamame in the Japanese way
You may have noticed the beans are rarely served without pods at Japanese restaurants.
Cooking them in their pods helps lock in the flavour. You’re going to master how to cook edamame with pods like a pro.
You really don’t need to do much to enhance the flavour – fresh edamame beans, cooked in a subtle way is perfect! The method I’ll share with you below is passed on directly from my mother, and she had it passed on by her mother – can’t get much more authentic than that!
How to Prepare Edamame
Fresh edamame beans are always our favourite. If you find fresh edamame at a shop, buy them without hesitation! You can often find them at Japanese or Asian grocery stores during the summer.
Here’s my tips for preparing fresh edamame. They’re just little things but they have an impact on maintaining the colour, texture and flavour!
1. Clean properly
Remove the stems from the edamame pods. Dust off and remove any soil with water.
2. Cut the edges
Cut off about a ⅕ inch (5 mm) of the pods at each end with scissors. This helps the pods absorb the salted water and cook well.
3. Rub edamame with sea salt
- Transfer the edamame pods into a large bowl. Sprinkle half of the required salt onto them and rub them well by hand.
This helps remove the fine soft hairs from the surface. Sea salt also helps induce the umami of the beans while you boil them.
- Leave edamame for 30 minutes. No need to wash the salt off them. Also keep the leftover salt in the bowl and add it into the boiled water later on.
Cooking Edamame like a Japanese restaurant
Perfectly cooked and salted edamame pods are the ideal match for icy cold beer or sake! In Japan, it’s the simplest and most celebrated of edamame recipes, and you can have it too during the summer!
The keys to succeeding in cooking perfect edamame are:
- Cooking time
- Amount of salt you add
- Amount of water used to boil the edamame
1. Cooking time
- Boil one litre of hot water in a mid-sized pan. Add the sea salt including the leftover salt in the bowl. It’s optional but if you add a pinch of baking soda, it helps maintain the fresh looking pod colour.
- Once the water is boiled, add the edamame pods, and cook for three and a half minutes. This is important! Remove the layer of froth that floats on the surface.
If you prefer softer edamame, boil for four minutes, but much longer than that and the texture will breakdown and you’ll lose the flavour.
Pro tip! The standard cooking time is three and half minutes. But edamame can come in different sizes so you can check the hardness of the beans by testing at three and a half minutes. If it is really too hard, cook for up to four minutes. Edamame beans should maintain their structure, be firmish, but not hard. Try one to make sure it’s right for you.
I use sea salt. It’s what people use in Japan. The golden formula is to use four percent of salt against 1 litre hot water. It easy to remember as one litre water and two and half tablespoons of sea salt.
1 litre water : 2½ tablespoon salt (about 40g)
Remember that you’ve already used half of the salt for rubbing edamame in the preparation. Use the rest of the salt for cooking.
3. Check the softness
The right texture is important. No one likes under or overcooked beans. Pick up one pod, pull a bean out and try it. Make sure it’s the texture you prefer. They’re typically eaten firm but not hard, and they definitely should maintain their structure. Also it’s hot so be careful.
Drain hot water with a strainer. No need to soak them in water or rinse them. You want to keep as much of the flavour of the edamame as possible.
4. Cool down
Use a hand held fan and cool down the cooked edamame quickly. This way you can keep the fresh green colour.
That’s it! Serve immediately and enjoy!
How to Cook Frozen Edamame
Frozen edamame beans are super handy. They’re tasty with a good texture. And the fresh green edamame colours are well maintained.
Frozen shelled edamame
Frozen shelled edamame beans are already cooked. So, no need to cook again. If you do extra, that damages the flavour and taste. You can thaw edamame by either:
- Leaving them at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes
- Removing them from the freezer and putting them in the fridge overnight
- Heat them in the microwave (I start from one minute)
Frozen edamame pods
Frozen edamame pods can be found in most supermarkets these days. I’ve found them at Costco. They are already cooked. So, you don’t need to cook them again. You can thaw them by either:
- Leaving them at the room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or
- Cook them with boiled water for 1 minute
I soaked frozen edamame pods in water once, but the beans lost their flavour. Thawing the edamame pods at room temperature is for me the best way to keep the texture, colour and taste.
Where to Get Edamame
I used to buy edamame pods at my local shops. Fresh edamame is available at Asian or Japanese grocery stores from June to September. That’s the season of edamame.
This time, I bought organic soy beans and planted them. Amazing fresh edamame is ready less than three months later! It’s fairly easy to grow edamame. Just keep watering until they are germinated and after the flower.
How to choose fresh edamame
They are usually attached to stems. They should be full inside, plump and slightly fuzzy edamame pods. The colours are not like green frozen edamame though. Avoid brown or black coloured pods. They are too mature.
Where to get frozen edamame
Fresh edamame beans are only available during the summer. What happens if you want to eat them out of season? No worries! Frozen shelled edamame beans are often available at supermarkets these days (like Costco). I also often find frozen edamame with pods at the shops.
How to save edamame
Edamame is best enjoyed when it’s just cooked. If you would like to save, transfer the leftover edamame into an airtight container. Leave it in the fridge for up to five days.
You can keep the edamame in the freezer for one month. Let the edamame cool, then put them into a freezer bag and get rid of the air from the bag as as much as possible. Put the bag in the freezer.
How kids can enjoy edamame
I love edamame. As a kid, I was delighted whenever I found it in croquette, cooked rice and deep fried with other vegetables.
- Simply boiled and salted edamame pods are everyone’s friend. Add edamame pods into a lunch box or a picnic bento box. Kids love rice balls, onigiri, with edamame.
- Just place boiled edamame pods as a snack on the table. Kids love them after school (and it keeps them away from less healthy snacks)!
Why use salt for edamame?
In Japan, salt is added not to make the ingredients salty but to induce the umami of the edamame.
I use sea salt for edamame recipes as it’s used in Japan. You may notice the amount of salt. It seems like a lot. But trust me, it’s not too salty – it’s just normal for cooking the edamame with pods in Japan.
Easy Edamame Recipe
- 7 oz fresh edamame pods (200g)
- 2½ tablespoons sea salt (40g)
- 40 oz water (1.2 liter)
- pinch baking soda (for the colour)
- Remove stems from edamame pods. Dust off and completely remove any residual dirt with water.
- Cut ⅕ inch of the edamame pod ends with scissors. This allows the pods to absorb salt water and cook well inside.
- Transfer edamame pods into a large bowl and add half of the salt. Rub edamame with salt well by hand. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Boil the water in a pan. Add the rest of the salt and the residual salt from the bowl. Add a pinch of baking soda.
- Transfer edamame pods into the boiled water and cook for three and a half minutes. If you prefer softer beans, keep cooking for up to four minutes but not much longer than that.
- Remove the layer of form on the surface of the boiled water. Pick up a pod, and check out the softness.
- Quickly cool down cooked edamame with a fan to keep the green colour.
- That's it! Serve immediately!
- How much salt you add to water is important. The golden formula is to two and half tablespoons of sea salt for every liter of water. Don’t forget to add into the water the leftover salt from the bowl you used to rub the edamame in the preparation.
- Sprinkle some salt on the surface and serve.
- Save the cooked edamame pods in the fridge for five days and in the freezer for one month.