A sacred crop

Posted on 2 min read

The soybean has always been a crucial crop for Asia, Africa, Australia, where it’s been widely cultivated for thousands of years. People loved it for its nutritive properties so much that it even was considered sacral. According to Chinese mythology, there once lived a ruler by the name Shennong (that can be translated as “divine farmer”). He taught people the practices of agriculture and the use of herbal drugs.

The legendary sovereign thought to have proclaimed that five plants were sacred: soybeans, millet, barley, rice, and wheat. Even though the origin of soybean cultivation remains disputable, many scholars think that 5000 BC is a good estimate. However, it can be 3500 BC. But let’s be honest, we are not here for radiocarbon dating. 

Soybeans are one of the most valuable crops in the world due to their high protein and oil content. Most of the world’s soybean crop is processed into soybean meal and soybean oil for a reason. Oil, tofu, soy milk, soy sauce are among the most important and known foods in the world. But there is other stuff made from soybeans that one might be less familiar with: tempeh, natto, miso, kinako, yuba, douchi – all of them came from Asia, as you can guess. 

Green beans

When you hear the word “soybeans”, you usually imagine round, dried, yellowish seeds, but no matter how strange it feels, soya beans are green before they are dried. Yep, just like other plants. And those green beans have their name too – edamame. It’s a Japanese name but many people have already adopted it when referring to the immature soybeans in their pods.

Actually, most of us call green beans outside of their pods edamame too which is not 100% correct, because Japanese have a special name for it – “mukimame”, but we seem not to care a lot. With or without their pods, green soybeans are usually served as an appetizer or a beer snack. People just love to munch on edamame, especially when they are cooked right.

The good thing? It’s an absolute no-brainer

All you need is edamame beans in theory pods. Take 150 gr / 2 cups of the beans and throw them into the salted boiling water, leave them there for 3 minutes, then drain and pat with a paper towel. Transfer the beans to a pan with some sesame oil (try to use it specifically because of the bright aroma it imparts to the dish) and fry them for about 3 more minutes until slightly charred.

Add a Tbsp of soy sauce and heat until evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, serve immediately with your favourite beers. Also, consider edamame as a starter for the party. Order some sushi and cook the beans while everybody is waiting. You’ll be the biggest fish in your pond!

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