Monday, October 4, 2010

The Joy of Edamame

The garden is rather depressing this time of year. It is that point in the gardening year, when all the 'I should have weeded more, canned and pickled more, harvested-more-timely' remorse hits me. It is when the plants are starting to die back, or they didn't do well, or they were simply overlooked and are now overripe. It all drives home the fact that the growing season is over. It is not all gloom and doom -we still have winter squash coming and the broccoli has been stellar- and the brightest bright spot for me, that I've waited for all summer, is the edamame harvest. I absolutely adore edamames. I was introduced to them when my sister-in-law Gretchen, The Soup Queen, served a spectacular dinner of lobster and edamame. The lobster was amazing, of course, but I was totally blown away by the edamame, green soybeans eaten while immature. They taste, well, green -like something that your body really, really wants you to eat and that you should eat lots of. They are briefly cooked in their pods in salted, boiling water and the tiny bright green beans are then popped from their pods and eaten. They are a common Japanese appetizer and bar food, but since I don't get out much, to Japanese bars or otherwise, my introduction to these tasty little soybean pods was woefully belated.

For awhile, I bought them in the frozen foods section at the store, happily eating them, until I noticed a disconcerting 'Made in China' label on the package. Buying and eating frozen vegetables from China, while living in rural Washington state, is just too weird. My husband planted some the very next spring and growing them was a big success. After a brief blanching and thorough chilling, they freeze beautifully. I was delighted every time I took a bag from our freezer, cooking the frozen pods briefly in salted water and serving them for our dinner's vegetable. I was not delighted when we ran out. Obviously, planting more edamames in our garden in the spring would bring more joy to our table the following winter. This year, my husband planted quite a few more, and I have been waiting for their harvest all summer. Yesterday was the day, and after picking them, we ended up with 4 gallons of edamames to freeze. Oh Joy and Happiness! I kept out a large bowl I'm enjoying now, and hopefully those bags in our freezer will be enough to satisfy my desire for edamame throughout the coming winter.

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