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You probably know edamame. Immature steamed soybeans or edamame are one of Japan’s most popular food exports. They’re likely the most commonly ordered appetizer at Japanese restaurants in North America, and even common in grocery store frozen sections throughout the continent (including, of course, at Uwajimaya).

Part of the appeal of edamame is its simplicity combined with how oddly satisfying they are to eat — similar to peanuts or pistachios, even if you’re not craving edamame, it feels impossible to stop chomping on them once you start. Edamame are most commonly either boiled in a salty brine or topped with a sprinkling of salt flakes or a condiment. Their simplicity makes them easily craveable and addicting. 

In Japan — where edamame has been eaten for at least a thousand years and likely much longer — they’re popular as a snack in bars and izakayas alongside a cold beer or just as a side dish. 

As far as snacks go, you could pick a whole lot of less healthy options; edamame has tons of protein and fiber, several vitamins and minerals, complex, slow-burning carbohydrates, and are rounded out with a splash of healthy unsaturated fats like omega three and six fatty acids.