Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ingredient of the Month: Dry-Roasted Edamame

My Christmas present from my sister last year was a custom Ingredient of the Month Club. Near the end of each month, a package would arrive enclosing a foodstuff she had selected just for me! Some I’d tasted but never before cooked myself. One I’d never even heard of.

Most were non-perishable. A good thing, not just due to shipping practicalities. Despite my best intentions, and the smile each IOTM package brought to my face, my plans to indulge in recipe research and experimentation kept falling by the wayside. But I’m filled with resolve in this new year, and bringing you the first installment of my Ingredient of the Month series for 2012, featuring Dry-Roasted Edamame.

Edamame are immature green soybeans picked while still in the pod, often served boiled in Asian preparations.
Photo and more edamame health info from WellnessInChicago

I, however, was working with a product the package described as “Lightly Salted Dry Roasted Soy Bean Nuts.”

Google presented me with lots of hits about the health benefits of this vegetable and a number of suggestions for roasting or dry-roasting edamame yourself, but very few recipes using the dry-roasted version once you have it. I guess most people eat them straight out of the package as a snack. But, hey, I’m supposed to be cooking here.

Alton Brown’s Dry Roasted Edamame Brittle, with soy sauce, cayenne, and kosher salt, sounded interesting. But I kept scrolling for more ideas. I found suggestions for using them as a crunchy salad garnish in place of croutons, grinding the dry-roasted edamame into powdered form to season vegetarian dishes or use when breading meat or veggie “cutlets.” Even dipping them in dark chocolate, using them in chocolate chip cookies, or using them in a trail mix with dried blueberries and raw pumpkin seeds.

The dish I finally decided to make was inspired by this “Japanese Chex Mix” (which was no doubt inspired by a product-placement opportunity). “Party mix,” as we call it in my family, has always been one of my guilty pleasures. I am always the one digging through it for the nuts – especially the cashews. Why not try switching it up with some ingredients that might be healthier, or at least different? In case you’d like to try it for your Super Bowl party, I bring you:

Not Your Grandmother's Party Mix

1 c. dry-roasted edamame (not quite all of my 4.4 oz. package – I might try some dipped in dark chocolate later)
1 1/2 c. wasabi peas (or full 4.4 oz. package)
2 c. sugar snap pea crisps
4 c. veggie chips
4 c. wheat Chex (because what would Party Mix be without it?)
3/4 c. mixed nuts (my favorite part)

Combine dry ingredients in oven-proof pan if you're baking, or in microwavable container if you want to try to nuke this in 15 min. (per new instructions on the Chex box).

Separately, melt 6 T. butter (mine was unsalted) and your chosen flavorings. I started with the suggested 1 t. soy sauce for this "Japanese" version, recognizing that many of my "healthy" ingredients were already salted as compared to the old-time version featuring sweet-ish cereal products.

Halfway through baking at about 275 degrees for a total of 1 hour (stirring every 15 minutes), I tasted it and decided to tweak. And of course, that's when I got impatient with measuring and did what I usually do here in the Intuitive Eggplant Kitchen. I melted a couple more tablespoons of butter, added a liberal dash of Worcestershire, some Tobasco, garlic powder, celery salt, and seasoned salt to replicate the tastes from my youth..

My verdict? Not bad. But not quite as satisfying as my nostalgic favorite. And I will still be hunting for the cashews.

Stay tuned next month, when I'll tackle another ingredient and share more recipes you might want to try in your own kitchen.


Marina said...

Love this post, so green and healthy!

Jenny said...

First, what a great gift to give a Foodie! Very clever gift.

And I applaud your use of the dried pea into trail mix, but I love cashews too.

I hope you do this every month.

moi said...

I'm always searching for the cashews! Bwahahahahaha!

LaDivaCucina said...

You bad girl, picking out the nuts! haha! I used to do that with almonds in the nut mix can as a kid!

I LOVE your sister's thoughtful gift idea! Very cool, I love to get packages and surprises!

Liking the idea of the Japanese chex mix...what could you do to make it better? (besides putting all cashews in instead of the mixed nuts!)

I was thinking a good way to use them would be to crust some fish or chicken with them in a breading like you do with crushed macadamias.

Kelly said...

Great to hear about this January ingredient! Happy Experimenting! Happy Cooking! Happy Eating! Kelly

Sharon Rudd said...

Marina, I probably made it less healthy with the butter and fat, but still worth a try.

Boxer, yes, this is one of the best gifts a foodie could receive. And I will definitely be posting IOTM every month!

Moi, I knew we were kindred foodie spirits :)

La Diva, yes, the breading option intrigued me too. Given your success with breading tofu in your new post, I'll bet you could do a whizz-bang job riffin' on that!

Kelly! My dear sweet sis! You made this possible!

Buzz Kill said...

I guess it's going to depend on how sadistic your sister is as to how much fun you'll have with the Ingredient of the Month Club (Geoduck, what?).

I've heard of Edamame but don't believe I've ever eaten it. In a "Chopped" competition, I'd probably opt for the crusted fish direction. This post gives me something to look forward to for the rest of the year.

Sharon Rudd said...

Buzz, phew, no geoduck :) Glad you're looking forward to more installments. I've got another "cooking exploration" series in the works too . . .

Candy said...

Awesome gift idea! I love this mix of ingredients.

moi said...

Now, I'm pretty much Mikey when it comes to food, but even I have to think twice about the ol' geoduck.

Jean said...

I stopped by from Boxer's to wish you a most Happy Birthday this weekend! May it be chock full of fun and love and good foods!