Saturday, March 28, 2009

Edamame Dip

Edamame dip is one of those foods that I will admit to over-thinking in the past. The flavor of the beans themselves is distinctive and appealing, but not so unique or overpowering that it can't be approached as a blank canvas or a conduit for other flavors. 

And that's where I got into trouble. 

I always made the mistake of taking a "more is more" approach when trying to come up with a good edamame dip recipe. I added ingredients like sesame oil and soy sauce - which I thought were more in line with the dip's Asian flavors - to ingredients that at first felt counter-intuitive, like Greek yogurt or sweet ricotta. The resulting dips were either too thick or too smoky or too, well, too, for lack of any other description. Especially when made with the yogurt or the cheese. I'm not saying dairy and edamame don't mix, or that they shouldn't be mixed, but when I tried blending them the resulting dips had too many flavors and too many textures. Or, as Emperor Joseph II said of Mozart's compositions, "too many notes." 

I decided to dial it back. I chose two flavor themes and made two dips. The first relied on roasted red chili paste and seasoned rice wine vinegar; the second, wasabi and fresh squeezed lemon juice. 

I was pleased with both, though I admit I liked the one with vinegar more. Both dips received equal accolades at the party I took them to last night so they passed the O.P.P. - "other people's palates" - Test. 

The recipes are below. They are fairly easy to make. The most taxing part of each process was the frequent stop-n-start of the food processor as I adjusted the flavors. 

Edamame Dip with Chili Paste Recipe (Vinegar-based) 
2 cups edamame, peeled and cooked (I use the frozen variety that are pre-peeled.)
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (seasoned or unseasoned, it's your choice)
1/4 olive oil (add more if needed)
1 TBS brown sugar
1 TBS fresh, grated ginger root 
1 tsp roasted red chili paste (I prefer the Thai Kitchen brand)
Cucumber slices, rice crackers, pita chips, baby carrots - for dipping 

1. Set a pot of water to boil and follow instructions for cooking frozen edamame. (Here in the Bay Area we are trying to conserve water so ignore the "six cups" required in the directions on the bag of frozen edamame. You can get by with half of that.) Drain, and set aside. 
2. In a bowl whisk together the rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, miso, chili paste and ginger. 
3. When edamame have cooled slightly, place them in a food processor and using the pulse function, blend, stopping occasionally to stir any bits of the beans that haven't been pureed back into the mix.
4. Begin to add the vinegar mixture into the pureed edamame. Pulse and check frequently for its consistency. After you've added a quarter cup of the vinegary mix, begin to add the olive oil. Again, using the pulse function, blend, stopping to check the consistency. If you have a big green ball that's being rolled around by the blade of the food processor add more of the vinegar mix. Keep checking and tasting. If you think it needs more oil, add accordingly. You will probably have a little less than a quarter cup of the vinegar mix leftover. You can use it as a dressing on a small salad. 

Edamame Dip with Wasabi (Lemon juice-based)
2 cups edamame, frozen, cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice, pulp strained out
1/2 cup red miso paste 
1/4 olive oil (more if needed)
1 TBS + 1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp wasabi powder (I use the Sushi Sonic brand.) 

1. Cook frozen edamame according to directions on package but use less water. (See recipe above.) Set aside to cool.
2. In a bowl whisk together fresh lemon juice, red miso paste and brown sugar. Taste and adjust sugar as needed. You can add water, a teaspoon at a time, if the lemon - or the miso - is too overpowering. Blend well. Whisk in the wasabi powder. Again, adjust flavors according to your taste. Keep in mind that the intensity of this mix will be subdued once it's blended with the edamame puree. 
3.  Puree edamame in a food processor. Using the pulse feature, add about a quarter cup of the lemon and miso mixture into the food processor. Add olive oil, blend to combine. Scrape off any confetti bean bits that have been flung to the top of the food processor or onto its sides. Continue to add olive oil and lemon juice until consistency is thick but easily scooped. I used approximately 2/3 of a cup of the lemon juice mixture in the edamame puree to achieve a consistency and flavor I liked. Adjust accordingly to your preference. 
NOTES: One bag of frozen edamame will yield about three cups, cooked. In these recipes I only used two cups so you'll have a little left over. You can try sesame oil, grapeseed oil or canola oil in these recipes as well, but I think olive oil works best. You can use white miso, red miso or brown miso in these recipes. The white will be the most mellow of the three. Whisking the vinegar, or lemon juice, mixtures separately before introducing them to the puree in the food processor makes a big difference in the distribution of the flavors. Save any remaining liquid mix as a dressing for a small salad, a marinade, or serve over soba noodles.

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