Mukimame vs. Edamame: What’s The Difference?
Soybeans have been a part of human diets in Asia for centuries.
The versatility of this vegetable allowed chefs over the years to create all sorts of tasty dishes and sides for people to enjoy with what was available in the area.
This versatility is evident in the different uses for both edamame and mukimame.
However, comparing mukimame vs edamame requires more than just looking at the names and uses. If you’re curious to see how mukimame and edamame compare to one another, then continue reading below.
What Is Edamame?
Edamame is a popular vegetable appetizer or side dish in Asia. An edamame pod is a soybean pod harvested while still young, resulting in the green, lush pod and beans we think of when eating edamame.
If left to grow on their own, edamame pods develop into the thin, tanned soybeans used to make many other dishes and items.
The pod of the edamame is firm and difficult to bite through. Because of this, the most common way to eat edamame is out of the pod after the pods have been steamed or boiled.
By pressing the end of the pod between the teeth, you can squeeze the edamame beans out of the pods and into your mouth to enjoy.
What Is Mukimame?
Mukimame is the beans of the edamame pods removed from the pod itself. If you’re comparing this plant to peas, think of edamame as both peas and the pea pod and mukimame as just the peas.
In Japanese, the root word “eda” translates twig or branch, and the root word “mame” translates to bean. Remembering these definitions is an easy way to distinguish between the two dishes.
The difference in the name comes from how the Japanese language works.
Japanese words for things tend to refer to a description or function for something. The word edamame roughly translates to “stem bean” as a reference to the stem soybean pods grow out of.
Mukimame translates to “exposed bean” since the beans are now outside the pod.
Most often, you can find mukimame canned or frozen in a bag. Mukimame offers convenience over edamame since the beans don’t have to be cooked to remove them from the fibrous pod.
Instead, soybean enjoyers can grab a package of mukimame and enjoy by heating the exposed beans as they please.
What Do Edamame and Mukimame Taste Like?
Since they come from the same plant and are harvested at the same ripeness, edamame and mukimame have very similar flavors.
Both of these foods have a slightly sweet flavor due to the remaining sugars inside the bean. These sugars would typically go to maturing the young beans, but instead, add a hint of sweetness.
The edamame pod also carries an earthy and somewhat salty flavor. Cooking the pods helps reduce the earthiness of the pod, allowing the salty undertones to shine through.
Given that many folks describe a grassy flavor for the edamame pod, it’s easy to see why cooking and removing the pod helps the flavor and overall experience.
Mukimame tastes much like edamame but without the earthy and salty undertones given by the edamame pod. Most of this difference comes down to how food packagers handle mukimame.
By the time the mukimame goes into the bag or can, it has long been removed from the pod, meaning the flavor that comes with it also goes away.
Still, both edamame and mukimame have a mild flavor that goes well with many dishes. These versatile food items can act as a side dish on their own or be mixed in with other vegetables or proteins, depending on how the cook wants to use them.
Mukimame vs Edamame
Despite being the same vegetable, many folks have a preference for one mukimame or edamame over the other. Most of these differences come down to how the individual prefers to experience this food item.
It’s no secret that edamame takes more time to prepare. In addition to steaming or boiling the pods, you also have to wait for the pods to cool before you can remove the beans.
The fibrous pod holds heat for a long time thanks to the water in the pod itself.
But, the pod adds a little flavor thanks to its earthy and salty notes. You miss out on these flavors when you don’t eat edamame straight from the pod.
Mukimame offers more convenience than edamame. Since there is no pod to remove, mukimame requires a few minutes to steam or boil. After that, you can serve them immediately or mix them with other foods and vegetables as desired.
That convenience comes at another cost, though. Mukimame has a muted flavor compared to edamame due to the lack of the pod. This pod helps seal in the natural flavor and sugars of the beans.
Losing this pod causes those flavors to diminish since the beans are no longer protected and sealed from the outside air.
Overall, edamame offers a richer flavor but comes with the price of extra work. Mukimame makes it easier to use the beans in dishes, albeit with a lesser flavor overall.
Ultimately, you’d want to use edamame when you have the time or want to serve them as an appetizer or side, while mukimame makes for a great mix-in on many dishes.
How To Cook Edamame and Mukimame
While edamame and mukimame come from the same plant, their preparation methods differ. So, you’ll want to know the difference when you work with the naked beans versus the entire pod:
Edamame tends to be cooked inside the pod rather than shelled ahead of time. The cooking process helps break down and soften the pod.
It won’t get soft enough to eat, but you can get the beans from inside the pod out once the pods cool down after cooking.
Also, the pod helps to cook the beans inside. The pod creates a tight seal against the beans, helping to trap heat and water to steam the beans from inside the pod.
Cooking with the edamame pod also helps impart some of the salty and earthy flavors from the pod into the beans themselves.
Edamame is most commonly steamed or boiled. This process usually takes about seven to ten minutes, depending on how large the edamame pods are. Some recipes roast the edamame in the oven, generally around 375 F.
Seasoning isn’t complex for edamame. Salt or soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper tend to be the extent of what most cooks put on their edamame after it finishes cooking.
Some places instead serve the edamame unseasoned since the pod imparts a good amount of flavor already.
Mukimame follows many of the same cooking principles used on edamame, though with a few key differences.
First, mukimame doesn’t have the soybean pod to impart flavor, meaning you’ll have to rely on your seasonings to do this. The same classic options like soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper all work well with mukimame.
Also, the cooking time for mukimame is a little shorter than with edamame.
Without the pod to absorb heat from your cooking surface, mukimame can overcook and become bitter if cooked as long as an edamame pod. Most recipes say to cook mukimame for five to six minutes, maximum.
Storing Edamame and Mukimame
Both edamame pods and mukimame can go into the refrigerator the same way.
So long as both items go into an airtight container, edamame and mukimame last about three or four days in the fridge. Beyond that, they start to wrinkle and lose their flavor.
You can also freeze edamame and mukimame. The best way to do this is to move them into an airtight container or freezer-safe bag and remove as much air as possible.
Once in the freezer, the vegetables can last between two and three months, depending on the freezer.
You do not have to cook the bean before placing them into the freezer. Also, edamame and mukimame do not need to thaw before going into a dish as long as the beans have time to warm up when you add them.
If you need room temperature edamame for mukimame from the freezer, the best practice is to thaw the beans first. Soybeans only need an hour or two outside the freezer to thaw out completely.
To speed up the process, you can use the thaw setting of your microwave on the lowest power setting to prevent the beans from getting overcooked.
Set the microwave for a few minutes at a time and check the beans. Overcooked beans can turn bitter and tough rather than soft and sweet.
Are Edamame and Mukimame Bad for You?
Despite their inclusion in human cuisine for centuries, many folks worry about eating soybeans as part of their diet.
Some folks note that after they consumed a large amount of soy, including edamame or mukimame, they experienced adverse health effects.
Most of these worries stem from the phytoestrogens present in soybeans.
These compounds are plant-based compounds that mimic the effects of estrogen, the female hormone responsible for regulating several systems in the human body.
Many people worry that eating a lot of soy can upset their hormonal balance.
Considering the negative effect excess estrogen can have on male body function, it’s easy to see where the concern originates.
However, phytoestrogens only mimic some of the effects of human estrogen in the body. Additionally, the amount of phytoestrogen in soybeans requires one to eat huge amounts of soy to reach disruptive quantities of estrogen in the body.
The area where soy could be a problem is in the presence of anti-nutrients.
These compounds impair the ability of the digestive system to absorb nutrients from the food by competing for space needed in the gut to take up these nutrients.
There aren’t many studies on how much of an impact a high soybean diet affects the ability to absorb nutrients. However, there’s more cause for concern there than with phytoestrogens for the average edamame enjoyer.
Overall, edamame and mukimame are safe foods to eat so long as you use standard harvesting and cooking practices.
Washing the beans and pods to remove pesticides and such before cooking and properly cooking the beans reduces the risk of getting sick from soy.
Here are the answers to some other common questions.
Can you eat too much edamame?
Many individuals worry about the phytoestrogens inside soybeans. However, these compounds require someone to eat massive quantities of soy every day to reach destructive levels in the body.
Instead, too much edamame is more likely to cause digestive issues. The excess fiber can cause loose stools and bowel inflammation.
Do you eat the skin of edamame?
The edamame pod is not something you can eat. This shell is hard to chew due to its tough texture and isn’t easily digested by the body.
Rather than eating the shells, it is best to grasp one end of the edamame pod with your teeth and squeeze the soybeans inside your mouth. From there, you can discard the shell and enjoy your snack.
What happens if you eat raw edamame?
We cook edamame because it breaks down many of the plant’s natural defenses against predators. These compounds can cause nausea, gas, pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues.
Can you eat cold edamame?
Yes, you can eat cold edamame. If you are eating leftover edamame that has been refrigerated, you can eat it cold or reheat it in the microwave.
To reheat it, place the edamame in a microwave-safe container with a tablespoon of water and cover it loosely with a moistened paper towel. Cook it to the desired temperature.
While edamame and mukimame come from the same plant, there are some key differences between the two vegetables.
The lack of the soybean pod for mukimame means that their flavor is a little diminished compared to edamame.
However, this lack of a pod makes mukimame more convenient for the average person to prepare at home since they don’t have to worry about shelling the beans.
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