Japanese cuisine and the magnificent diversity of the essential soy bean
It is impossible to imagine Japanese food, washoku 和食, without the tremendously hard working soy bean.
The most essential of condiments like soy sauce and miso would not be possible without soy beans. Foods like tofu 豆腐, tofu skin yuba 湯葉, natto 納豆 (fermented soy beans), and edamame 枝豆 would not exist.
Let's explore this magnificent bean!
When we refer to soy beans, it's usually the dried mature soy beans.
They would not be eaten as they are, but roasted to make a crunchy snack, steeped in water for long hours and used to make tofu 豆腐, squeezed to make soy milk, cooked to make salads and nimono casseroles 煮物, or fermented to make natto 納豆.
Soy beans are packed with protein, vitamin B, folic acid, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and other minerals, making them quite the ideal nutritious food.
Soy sauce is a fermented condiment made usually with soybeans, roasted grain, brine, and koji.
Edamame is young soy bean that is harvested before they mature.
So Restaurant serves them with Malden salt as we think they are best enjoyed with simple seasoning.
They have become widely popular these days and we frequently find them included the small plates section, fancy creative dishes and mentioned somewhere in the extensive or concise menu in the hip and stylish restaurants, often with Michelin stars, regardless of their cuisine offering.
But rightly so, as edamame is so versatile. Their subtle irresistible crunch, vibrant colour, their nutritious goodness, is all so effervescent. We have seen shichimi togarashi 七味唐辛子 edamame, maple glazed edamame, edamame tossed with parmesan and herbs...
We cannot resist trying them when they're on the menu and they have never disappointed 😋
In Japan, all pubs, izakaya 居酒屋, will serve it.
We all expect them to have it, like crisps in a British pub. It doesn't need to be on the menu, we know it's there.
The tradition might stem from the fact that edamame is actually really good for you, especially when drinking alcohol.
Edamame packs a load of vitamin B1, B2 and C which are not only great for boosting your immune system but together with the Methionine, they help break down alcohol in the body. So they are the perfect accompaniment to beer, sake, wine, martini, margarita, mojito, pina colada or any sexy summer cocktail that catches your fancy 🍹 It's also a all around good food to help you recover from fatigue and heat which can happen in Japan in the intense summers.
At So restaurant, we sometimes like to jazz it up and serve sticky garlic spicy edamame that was a great hit and a super match with our asahi super dry beer 🍺
Agedashi tofu is another exceptionally popular Izakaya 居酒屋 pub dish in Japan. Our version is sprinkled with white sesame seeds and aromatic nori seaweed that adds subtle umami. Served in a delicious warm pool of dashi broth. A must try.
Of course, our famous Grilled eel kabayaki or Unaju, Butadon, Gyudon, chicken teriyaki, (and the list goes on) would not be possible without our special sauces which cannot be made without soy sauce.
So there we go!
Do you have any soy bean queries? We'd love to get a chance to answer them, please comment on our social and we shall get back to you!