Beaned By Lucky Edamame

Soybeans have long been celebrated as a high-protein superfood, but beyond their nutritional prowess, did you know that they can chase away demons, too? Japanese people have taken advantage of this for centuries with stellar results: Not a single demonic incident since setsubun!

What Is Setsubun?

Celebrated on February 3rd, setsubun means “seasonal division,” marking the end of winter and beginning of spring according to the old Japanese calendar. Since I’d do anything to speed through this dark period every year, I’m all for that! Many people have come to describe it as the “bean-throwing festival” in reference to the most important annual tradition.

Mamemaki, “bean scattering,” is the practice of throwing dried soybeans either out the front door or at a family member wearing a demon mask to drive away bad fortune. I’d always argue that it’s more fun to throw food at loved ones, but your mileage my vary. After cleansing the home of evil spirits, you’re then supposed to eat the leftover soybeans, counting out one for every year of your life, plus one more for good luck in the coming year.

This time around, let’s make soybeans that are so addictively spicy and savory, you’ll only want to throw more of them into your mouth.

Seven is a lucky number in Japanese culture, which is why ehomaki (large, uncut sushi rolls) are filled with exactly seven ingredients on this day, too. Shichimi togarashi, a spice blend made with seven components, is the perfect seasoning to follow suit.

What’s Sichimi Togarashi Made Of?

Also know as simply shichimi, there are no hard and fast rules for what makes the cut, but most blends include the following:

  • Sansho pepper or Sichuan peppercorns
  • Chilies
  • Ginger
  • Orange, mandarin, or yuzu zest
  • Sesame seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Nori

Use it anywhere you would black pepper for a bolder, more intense heat and complex flavor overall.

How to Make Crispy Soybeans

The dried soybeans traditionally used for setsubun are what we might refer to as soy nuts here. Personally, I much prefer the fresh, buttery taste of green edamame instead. The trick to getting them crispy is to cook them low and slow, gently removing moisture without burning the outsides. Believe it or not, your air fryer is just the tool for this job! Most air fryers have dehydrator settings now, offering temperatures as low as 90 degrees. Naturally, you could use a conventional dehyrator if you have one handy.

Demons had better keep their distance when these tiny fireballs are on the table; they really do bring the heat! Smoldering with the spice of powerful chili peppers, every bite has a resounding crunch and zesty finish that will bring you back for more. Pack them up as healthy snacks on the go, enjoy with a glass of sake, or eat them like popcorn while you Netflix and chill.

More Ideas For Using Crunchy Edamame

Aside from just eating the crispy beans out of hand, they’re an incredibly versatile ingredient in many other dishes.

  • Toss into leafy green salads
  • Top soups and stews
  • Crush roughly to use instead of breadcrumbs
  • Mix into energy bars
  • Use instead of pine nuts to sprinkle over pasta or risotto

鬼は外! 福は内! – Devils Out! Fortune In!

Slam the door shut on misfortune this year and eat your way to better luck. Crispy shichimi edamame will never do you wrong.

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Unholy

Fresh herbs wait for no one, which is a pressing issue when you’re prone to over-purchasing. Some can be preserved beautifully through drying or freezing, but others perish through the process. There’s a reason why dried basil and dill taste nothing like their original glory, aromatic and herbaceous, reduced down to straw-like hay at best. That’s why a treasure like Thai basil must be cherished immediately, given the opportunity.

What is Thai holy basil?

Distinct from Italian basil, Thai holy basil is more pungent and peppery, sharp and bright, unlike anything else on the market. Despite the misleading name, it’s in fact an entirely different plant, with no relation to other types of common basil. While you could substitute one for the other, you might as well use cilantro instead, since the taste would end up being equally disparate.

What’s the best way to use Thai basil?

Pad Krapao, AKA basil stir fry, is an ideal way to clean the excess fresh herb out of your fridge. It takes almost no prep, comes together in 10 minutes or less, and has an invigorating if not downright addictive flavor. The most common variety you’ll find is Pad Krapao Gai, made with ground chicken, but the beauty of this concept is its versatility. American restaurants tend to favor whole cuts, but you could easily use any protein you prefer.

What are some ideal protein substitutions?

Naturally, my chicken is plant-based. If you’re craving something lighter, heartier, or simply different, you have plenty of choices:

Want to veg out?

I like to keep this prep fast and streamlined, focusing on just one featured vegetable for the sake of simplicity. Go ahead and add a full rainbow to bulk up the meal, especially if you have a frozen stir fry vegetable blend you can effortlessly toss right in. My favorite vegetable additions or substitutions include:

  • Bell pepper strips
  • Snow seas or snap peas
  • Shredded carrots
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Baby corn
  • Sliced zucchini

If you should be so lucky to have access to fresh Thai holy basil, don’t let a single leaf go to waste. There will be no such thing as “too much” when you have this easy, crowd-pleasing recipe in your repertoire.

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Uncanny Kani

It’s no secret that “crab” (AKA “kani“) in your California sushi roll is anything but. Surimi has been the go-to crustacean imitation treasured by restaurateurs for its low cost, and touted by nutritionists as being higher in protein than the real deal. While that may be true, let’s not forget what surimi really is: cheap, highly processed white fish (typically pollock) with added sugar, color, preservatives, and fillers. If you’re looking for a healthier or more ethical choice, that really doesn’t fit the bill.

You know what always gets high marks for nutrition, sustainability, and versatility? Tofu! It’s the other, other white meat that is the chameleon of the plant-based protein world. Most people think of it as a meat substitute, but let’s not forget that it works just as well to curb seafood cravings of all sorts. In this case, super firm tofu is strong enough to withstand a fine julienne cut, reminiscent of the shredded, stringy texture of torn surimi.

What’s the best tofu to use in kani salad?

Super firm tofu is my top pick, since it’s ready to use right out of the package, no draining needed. If you can’t find this, extra firm is also great after pressing for 10 – 15 minutes. This helps remove a bit more of the water and create a more compact texture. My favorite brands include:

Tofu alone isn’t enough to complete the illusion, of course. Super chewy sweet potato glass noodles, better known for their role in Korean cuisine to make the most toothsome jap chae, adds the perfect bouncy bite. Nori, everyone’s favorite toasted seaweed sheets, incorporate a subtle oceanic note. It’s not hard to replicate the flavor since surimi is relatively bland to begin with.

How can you serve kani salad?

Kani salad is an excellent starter for any meal. Since it’s very high in protein, you could also make it the main course and serve it as an entree salad. If you wanted to dress it up more, you could add it to:

Tossed with crisp fresh vegetables and coated in creamy mayo dressing, this kani salad might look a bit different than the one served at your local Japanese restaurants, but the eating experience is sure to satisfy.

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Keema Curry for Keeps

To define shiitake as a Japanese ingredient would be correct, but also incredibly shortsighted. Umami transcends all cuisines and cultural boundaries, whether it’s added in the form of aged cheeses, seaweed, soy sauce, tomatoes, kimchi, green tea, and beyond. Shiitake can amplify those essential ingredients, harmonizing and accentuating their inherently rich flavors. What sets Sugimoto Shiitake apart from other umami powerhouses is the clarity and quality of savory depth, in addition to its uniquely meaty texture.

Previously, we’ve explored primarily western dishes like hearty hamburgers and comforting meatballs, bolstered with this plant-based dynamo. It’s about time we shifted focus to some more spicy fare. India, with an extensive history of vegetarianism, is ripe for an umami revolution.

Immediately, I thought of keema curry. Keema means “minced meat” in Urdu, which usually translates to ground lamb, goat, or sometimes beef when it comes to curry. The protein isn’t the defining factor of this dish, though; it’s the intense blend of pungent spices, tempered over a hot stove and then simmered gently, which unlocks a bold new world of flavor.

This is a great opportunity to use up any extra shiitake stems you might have been saving from other recipes. Minced finely, they add an ideal toothsome texture that approximates ground meat, working in concert with the walnuts and lentils to make a satisfying plant protein. Each bite is layered with nuanced, contrasting, yet complimentary textures and flavors using this easy approach.

How Can You Made Keema Curry Your Own?

No two cooks make the same exact keema curry. Spices are always highly subjective, so don’t be afraid to season to taste. There are plenty of other options to explore, including:

  • For a lower-carb recipe, you can either omit the potatoes or swap them for fresh cauliflower florets.
  • Bump up the beefy experience by using a meatless ground beef substitute instead of lentils. Be sure to brown it along with the onion before proceeding with the recipe.
  • If you’re working with a limited spice rack, you can use about 3 – 4 tablespoons garam masala instead of the whole and ground individual spices.
  • When tomatoes are in season, go ahead and use fresh (1 1/2 – 2 cups diced) instead of canned.
  • For those who like it hot, add diced Serrano peppers or crushed red pepper flakes, to taste.

While keema curry is brilliant right after cooking, it actually improves over time. If you can plan ahead and make your curry in advance, the spices can mingle and meld, becoming richer and more harmonious when reheated. Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, leftover should keep for 5 – 7 days. Consider doubling the recipe to fully appreciate it, now and later.

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Dog Days of Summer

It’s hard to imagine a world without hot dogs. Such a critical touchstone in American culture transcends the boundaries of age, income, and upbringing. Everyone knows and can appreciate hot dogs on some level, even if they aren’t overt fans. Indeed, as variants on more highly seasoned sausages, the art of tube meat has been around for centuries, making a brief cameo appearance in Homer’s Odyssey, no less. The dog that we all know and love today, however, has only been around since the 1600’s, invented by a butcher in Germany.

Yes, this all-American staple, like so many others, is not American at all! It was imported with the immigrants making it and quickly became adopted as an affordable mealtime staple. Given their popularity, versatility, and the fact that they don’t actually resemble any animal known to mankind, I find it strange that vegan options are so lacking. There aren’t a ton of choices, especially in mainstream grocery stores. Quality has improved dramatically in recent years, but they’re still highly processed, and if you’re avoiding soy or gluten, you’re simply out of luck.

Homemade vegan hot dogs are a lot easier to make than you may think! My version only takes 10 minutes of steaming before they’re ready to grill. Unlike seitan, there’s no kneading, no blending, no fancy equipment at all. Humble chickpea flour is the high-protein, high-fiber base for our upgraded franks, making them gluten-free, too. A tiny pinch of xanthan gum lends just the right firm yet springy texture, not quite chewy, yet perfectly toothsome.

What defines a hot dog is not so much the base, but the seasonings. Some are more smoky, some are more sweet, but polls show that most people generally favor a balanced, beefy taste that’s slightly salty, and gently spiced, but not so much that you’d think of it as such. As with hamburgers, much of the overall experience comes from the condiments and toppings, which means that less is more when crafting the ideal meaty vehicle.

Maybe you can guess where I’m going with this by now. Sugimoto shiitake mushroom powder is the only ingredient capable of creating the perfect meatless hot dog dupe.

How is it possible that shiitake powder, made from 100% shiitake with no additives, fillers, or preservatives, could taste like anything other than mushrooms? It’s all about umami, which is simply savory, transcending the boundaries that would otherwise separate the plant and animal kingdom. So much of what turns off mushroom-haters is the texture, which becomes a non-factor when dried, ground, and integrated seamlessly into other foods. Used as seasoning in the dry hot dog mix, you only get a juicy, substantial bite, sealed with a kiss by the smoky sear of the grill.

Serving Suggestions

I like to keep mine classic, with minimal toppings piled into a soft white bun, but the beauty of a proper hot dog is that it can pair beautifully with an infinite variety of garnishes. Here are some ideas for servings your dogs in style:

  • Sauerkraut and mustard
  • Chili and cheese
  • Caramelized onions
  • Guacamole, pickled jalapeno, and salsa
  • Sliced tomatoes, relish, and shredded lettuce
  • BBQ sauce and vegan bacon

There are no bad choices here! Dress your hot dog like you would any sandwich; exactly as you please.

Make Ahead Advice

Hot dogs are classic party food. To feed a group, you don’t want to spend all day in the kitchen, which is why these are such a great option to prep ahead of time to simply heat and eat later.

    1. You can double, triple, or quadruple the recipe for a crowd, but you may need to steam them in batches. May sure you don’t crowd them in the steamer, so there’s room for the hot air to circulate around each one.
    2. Cool after steaming and store the hot dogs in zip top bags, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing. You can store them in the fridge for 5 – 7 days like this, or toss them into the freezer to keep for at least 6 months.
    3. When you’re ready to serve, just toss them on the grill. If you’re preparing them from frozen, let them thaw at room temperature first, or defrost in the microwave.
    4. Leftovers can be stored in exactly the same way as the plain steamed dogs. You can reheat them in the microwave for 1 – 2 minutes, or toaster oven for 2 – 4 minutes, until hot all the way through.

Have You Tried Cooking with Hot Dogs?

Don’t forget, hot dogs can be so much more than a stand-alone entree. They’re an excellent source of protein with unlimited potential for use in other recipes. Some of my favorites are:

Other dishes that hot dogs would be great in include:

Hot dogs do seem like a natural pairing for a prime summer day, to be enjoyed in the sunshine with an icy beverage, perhaps after a quick dip in the pool. The good news, though, is that hot dogs never go out of season. Long after you bundle up the grill and winterize the yard, this recipe will still serve you well for the colder months ahead.

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Way Better Whey

Some animal products can lurk just beyond detection on ingredient labels, hidden in plain sight. Adopting new names like false identities, they masquerade as benign, unremarkable ingredients, only called out by an allergen statement in small print like an afterthought. There are certain euphemisms you learn early on; even a child could tell you that “beef” means cow, and “pork” means pig. Beyond that, things get a little bit hazy. Whey is a particularly problematic ingredient, so far removed from the milk it came from that it can legally be labeled as lactose-free. Make no mistake, conventional whey is still 100% dairy-based and absolutely not vegan. However, in this golden age of plant-based alternatives, I’d like to think that those tides are turning.

California Performance Co. is on the cutting edge of food technology, working to redefine the entire concept of whey. V-Whey is the world’s first animal-free whey protein, made with Perfect Day to make a DNA-identical protein, bearing all the same nutrients, minus the cow. That’s why you’ll still see dairy as a potential allergen on the label. This dairy, however, is all vegan.

What are the benefits of V-Whey?

  • Anyone who has difficulty digesting other plant proteins like soy, wheat or, pea should take comfort knowing that whey is typically better tolerated by those with sensitive stomachs.
  • It’s a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. These are the building blocks for creating muscle, creating new immune cells, healing wounds, growing strong hair and healthy skin, and so much more.
  • Cruelty-free, sustainable, and better for the environment, this one goes well beyond personal health. Even if you’re not vegan, everyone should be concerned about the impact that feedlots have on soil erosion, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, and beyond.

V-Whey by California Performance Co. comes in three favors: Vanilla Sundae, Chocolate Brownie, and Mixed Berry. You have a classic neopolitan array of dessert-inspired tastes to quell cravings with 0 grams of added sugar. They’re sweetened with stevia to prevent blood sugar spikes, keep calories low, and still taste like a treat.

Most importantly, this is something you’ll WANT to drink. 23 grams of protein per serving are great, but useless if you can’t choke them down. It’s not a struggle with the silky-smooth consistency of V-Whey, mixing easily with water, non-dairy milk, or juice without a machine.

Vanilla Sundae lives up to the promise such a decadent title implies. Even when blended with just water alone, it tastes undeniably creamy, smooth, and sweet as dessert. It straddles the line between cake batter and frosting, which makes it a perfect ice cream alternative if you simply add ice. Cravings don’t stand a chance against this mix, which is ideal for adding into other recipes for its easily paired, agreeable flavor profile.

Mixed Berry underwent a startling transformation the second liquid hit. That stark white powder instantly blossomed into a florescent neon pink, stunningly rich in color as it poured from the shaker. Each sip was equally striking, starting with fresh strawberry notes in the lead, then morphing into a candy-like sweetness, and rounded out by a subtly tart, tangy finish. Genuine floral notes of whole fruit punctuated the experience for a fully immersive drinking experience.

Chocolate Brownie was my personal favorite of the bunch. It’s dark and deep, subtly bitter like a good bar of 80% cacao, tempered with just enough sweetness to soften the hard edges. Such incredible creaminess brings to mind truffles, ganache, and chocolate fondue, all melting together in one luxurious drink. This one is clearly designed with chocolate lovers in mind, doing proper justice to the world’s favorite aphrodisiac.

How else can you use V-Whey?

  • Smoothies and smoothie bowls
  • Hot oatmeal or overnight oats
  • Homemade protein bars
  • Add a scoop to pancake or waffle batter
  • Replace some of the flour in muffins or cookies
  • Mix with nut butter and spread on toast

Forget the gritty, chalky health tonics of yesteryear and welcome to the future. This is way better than conventional whey.

This post was made possible as a collaboration with California Performance Co. My opinions can not be bought and all content is original. This page may contain affiliate links; thank you for supporting my blog!