Edamame (枝豆) (English pronunciation: /ˌɛdəˈmɑːmeɪ/) is a preparation of immature soybeans in the pod commonly found in Japan, China, Hawaii, and Korea. The pods are boiled in water together with condiments such as salt, and served whole.
Outside East Asia, the dish is most often found in Japanese restaurants and some Chinese restaurants, but it has also found popularity elsewhere as a healthy food item.
The Japanese name edamame (枝豆) is commonly used in some English-speaking countries to refer to the dish. The Japanese name literally means "twig bean" (eda = "twig" + mame = "bean") and refers to young soybeans cropped with its twig. Edamame refers also its salt-boiled dish because of its prevalence.
In Chinese, young soybeans are known as maodou (Chinese: 毛豆; pinyin: máodòu; literally "hairy bean"). Young soybeans in the pod are known as maodoujia (Chinese: 毛豆荚; pinyin: máodòujiá; literally "hairy bean pod"). Because boiling in the pod is the usual preparation for young soybeans, the dish is usually identified via a descriptive name, such as "boiled maodou", or "salt-boiled maodou", depending on the condiments added, but like in Japan, simply saying the name of the bean, maodou, in a Chinese restaurant will produce salt-flavored, boiled maodou.
The earliest solid reference to the green vegetable dates from the year 1275, when the well-known Japanese monk, Nichiren Shonin, wrote a note thanking a parishioner for the gift of "edamame" he had left at the temple. A detailed history of edamame (764 pages, 2,025 references) is now available online.
Green soybeans in the pod are picked before they ripen. The ends of the pod may be cut before boiling or steaming.
The pods are then boiled in water or steamed. The most common preparation uses salt for taste. The salt may either be dissolved in the boiling water before introducing the soybean pods, or it may be added after the pods have been cooked. Boiled soybean pods are usually served after cooling, but can also be served hot.
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