Today’s Bento

Edamame bento box

New potato, fresh edamame, and scallion salad with lemon and olive oil. Plus sweet summer tomatoes, spicy pickled eggplant, and a soy sauce egg.

As Harris Salat noted recently on The Japanese Food Report, it’s the season for edamame.  Every produce shop and grocery store here is selling large bunches of the beans, which are often still attached to their roots and stems. When fresh, their flavor is superb – very “beany,” for lack of a better word.  You can almost taste the minerals in them.

Simply boiled in salted water, they make a great summer snack with a tall glass of cold beer.  In fact, I happen to have a can of Yebisu (owned by the venerable Sapporo brewery) sitting in my tiny fridge, so dinner tonight may be just that, plus whatever odds and ends are lying about.

However, I also love edamame in salads, especially when paired with other legumes, fresh herbs, and alliums. Last night I decided to make an edamame-centric salad for my bento box lunch.  Some basil and purple shiso would’ve been nice additions, but those plants are three hours away in Matsumoto. Instead, I made do with some lemon zest and plenty of black pepper.  That was fine, because it allowed the flavor of the fresh beans to stand out.  The salad is so simple and adaptable that you don’t really need a recipe, but I’ve written up my version anyway. See below for more!

New Potato and Edamame Salad (新じゃがいもと枝豆サラダ)

Serves 2-3

Remove the pods from the stems of one large bunch of fresh edamame.  Peel 2 or 3 medium-sized new potatoes and cut into 1/2- inch cubes.  Boil in a large pot of salted water and cook just until tender.  (If you’d like more protein, you can also boil some eggs at the same time.)  When the potatoes are cooked, scoop them out of the water with a handheld strainer (or perforated ladle, or whatever) and let cool in a colander. Now throw in the unshelled edamame and boil until the beans are bright green (a few minutes). If you’re using frozen shelled edamame, they’ll take less time to cook.  When cooked, the beans should still have a fair amount of bite.

Drain the beans and rinse under cold running water, until cool enough to handle.  Pop the beans out of their shells and toss into a large bowl, along with the potatoes.  Add a few chopped scallions, a generous helping of lemon zest, olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, plenty of black pepper, and salt to taste.  Toss everything gently.  You can also add some fresh herbs to the mix – I’d go for basil and shiso, though mint, lemon thyme, marjoram, and the like would also be good.  Enjoy, perhaps with some good bread, or just some pickles and fresh tomatoes.  Oh, and don’t forget the beer!

Bento box egg

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2 thoughts on “Today’s Bento

  1. I think fresh edamame are currently available in the Washington DC farmers’ markets, so I can try this promptly. Will you provide a recipe for the eggs at some point?

  2. The eggs are quite easy – after cooking and cutting in half, I simply drizzled them with soy sauce and let them sit in the fridge overnight. They would’ve had more flavor if I had steeped them (uncut) in the soy sauce, but I actually didn’t want them to be too strong. You can also coat hard-boiled eggs in miso and leave them in the fridge for a day or two – it adds amazing flavor!

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