If you haven't ever tried edamame picked fresh from the vine, please scour your local farmers market, just in case someone's selling them. I happened to drop by the Union Square market in NYC and came across a pile -- and grabbed 'em fast. Edamame are young soybeans in the pod, usually sold precooked and frozen (like the kind you typically get in restaurants). The fresh ones aren't nearly as perfect looking, and smaller in size. But the flavor and texture - so sublimely beany and firm and vital feeling as you bite into them. Preparing fresh edamame is a snap:
Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil over high heat (you want plenty of water). Snip the stalk ends off the beans, which will allow the salt water to penetrate. When the water is rolling and boiling, add the edamame. Don't reduce heat, and cook quickly, about 2 minutes or so. (Taste to make sure they're cooked through, and have lost their green edge.) Transfer to a colander and shock them under cold running water. When they're cool to the touch, add them to a mixing bowl and sprinkle in salt to taste. Mix together well, pile in a mound on a serving platter, sprinkle a little salt over them and serve. Eat the beans, toss the shells.
Oh, and a word about salt: The salt in the picture above is arajio, that is, natural Japanese sea salt. This coarse salt is still wet with brine, so it's loaded with incredible oceany and mineral flavors. It's absolutely fantastic; I love this salt. It's quite potent, so be careful not to over-salt. You can find arajio in Japanese markets; it's a bargain compared to fancy gourmet salts, to boot.