How to cook edamame beans

Like peanuts in a shell, once you start peeling and eating these young green soybeans, it's hard to stop

29 August 2019 - 09:00
Edamame beans should never be eaten raw. They're always served cooked, typically in the pod.
Edamame beans should never be eaten raw. They're always served cooked, typically in the pod.
Image: 123RF/Anna Pustynnikova

Edamame beans look a bit like sugar snap peas that have been lurking in the fridge too long, but don't let their somewhat hairy exterior put you off. Once cooked and peeled, these young green soybeans have a pleasant nutty, buttery flavour and, be warned, they're addictive!

The Japanese have been enjoying edamame beans since ancient times and today they're popular in China and other Asian countries, too. Locally, you’ll find them in Asian stores and selected supermarkets, perhaps not fresh, but in bags in the freezer (they're just as good).

NEVER eaten raw, edamame beans are cooked and served in the pod, which is discarded. They're easy, if a little time-consuming, to peel, and once you start eating them, it's hard to stop. Like peanuts in a shell, they are best enjoyed as a snack and always with a beer.


  • Fresh: Remove the “hair” from the exterior by rubbing the beans together with a sprinkling of salt before cooking.
  • Frozen: These are cooked directly from frozen.


I’ve enjoyed them two ways: Japanese, and Chinese-style.

In Japan, the whole beans are boiled in salted water till just tender; they're snipped at each end first to allow the salt to penetrate the pod. Once drained, they're served with a little salt on the side.

My favourite is how the Chinese prepare them. After being boiled or steamed, the whole beans are stir-fried in a wok over a high heat in a little oil and with a splash of soy sauce. Lightly charred on the outside, they're served with a sprinkling of salt. I love the smokey flavour the wok adds to the beans. Delicious.