Edamame, a.k.a. fresh soy beans, are a quick, easy, protein-packed, tasty snack or appetizer. Whether you buy them fresh or frozen, you can cook them up in a snap and flavor them to your taste. Seriously, if you cook up fresh and frozen edamame side-by-side, it is the rare person who will be able to tell the difference.
First things first: how to cook them. You have a few choices, all taking about the same amount of time.
The difference, in terms of effort, really comes down to what kind of equipment you want to use. No matter how you cook them up, season them to taste with flaky sea salt, red pepper flakes, togarashi, and/or sesame seeds.
1. How to Boil Edamame
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add enough salt so the water tastes as salty as sea water. Add in-shell edamame and cook until the beans inside the pods are tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water to cool and season to taste before serving.
2. How to Steam Edamame
Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a pot. Put the edamame in a colander, steam basket, or bamboo steam tray. When the water is boiling, add the vessel to the pot, cover, and steam the edamame until they are heated through and tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the pot. Serve warm or rinse with cold water to cool off first. Season to taste and serve.
3. How to Microwave Edamame
Put the edamame in a microwave-safe bowl.
If cooking fresh edamame, splash them with a few drops of water (using wet hands and then flicking your fingers at the bowl to splatter a few drops of water here and there on the pods is a decent technique), cover the bowl with a paper towel, and microwave on high in 1-minute increments until the edamame are tender, about 3 minutes total in most microwaves.
Let sit until cooled off enough to handle. Serve warm or rinse under running cold water to cool them off more. Season to taste and serve.
4. How to Pan-Sear Edamame
Pan-searing is a less common method, but a decidedly tasty one. Heat a large frying pan (cast iron is ideal, if you have it) over high heat until it's nice and hot. Wet your fingertips and flick drops of water onto the surface; they should dance and sizzle immediately. Add the edamame to the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, undisturbed, until the pods are lightly charred on the bottom. Turn the pods over and cook, maybe shaking the pan a bit but not stirring them around too much, until both sides are charred and the edamame beans inside are tender. Season to taste and serve hot or at least warm. Note: this method doesn't lend itself as well as the others to cooling and serving at room temperature or cold.