If you’ve ever spent much time in an izakaya then you’re familiar with edamame. At its most basic the popular Japanese drinking snack consists of nutty tasting immature soybean pods briefly boiled in salt water. They’re fun to eat—just squeeze the fuzzy pod and pop out the smooth beans—and much better for you than pretzels.
Once I was enjoying a bowl in a certain Midtown izakaya and they had a incredible shrimp flavor. Boiling the beans with shrimp shells is a nice touch, but the most interesting treatment of edamame I’ve had was a Taiwanese version known as mào dòu. Tossed with sesame oil, cracked pepper, garlic, and just a hint of star anise they are absolutely wonderful. Best of all, mào dòu is easy to make at home just boil the beans briefly, shock them in cold water, and toss with your mào dòu fixins.
Those mào dòu fixins need not be limited to the ones I’ve mentioned either. Come to think of it a má là version with palate tingling Sichuan peppercorn and fiery dried chilies would be quite nice.