Fresh, sweet soybeans served in their fuzzy green pods are a popular appetizer at Japanese restaurants. A quality source of vegetarian protein, edamame boast a nutty flavor and pleasant crispness. Eat them plain or toss with Asian-spiced flavors to complement the soybeans that you can find frozen in the pods or shelled and blanched. Fresh edamame may be available in certain specialty markets.
Boil a pot of water and add liberal amounts of salt. Add the frozen or fresh pods and cook for three to five minutes.
Drain and arrange the whole pods on a baking sheet to dry and cool.
Toss the pods with coarse salt and serve. To eat them, slide the pod between your teeth and suck out the edible beans. Discard the fuzzy outside.
Prepare the edamame as you did in the first section. Remove the beans from their pods when cool by popping the beans out with your thumb and forefinger. Set aside. Using frozen shelled edamame makes this step unnecessary.
Blend together a mixture of spices, such as chili powder, onion powder, ground cumin, paprika and black pepper. Experiment with other flavors that please your palate.
Toss the beans in just enough olive oil to coat. Add the spices, put into a shallow roasting pan and place in a 375-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Sprinkle with salt to taste and serve.
You can also toss the full boiled pods with a robust spice mixture for more flavor. A combination of spices, including pink peppercorns, Sichuan peppercorns and garlic powder, for example, gives them a Chinese twist. Be liberal when you coat the fuzzy pods -- because you don't actually put the whole pod in your mouth, only a fraction of the spice actually makes it to your taste buds.