All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.


Soramame fava beans

Vicia faba
Inconvenience is probably what makes fresh fava beans unfamiliar or unpopular in this country; their season is short and they are sold in pods (bothersome to shell and lots of waste, which means “no deal” with this vegetable). Well, fava beans do not last long once shelled, so buying them in pods makes much better sense. You can freeze them after boiling. And the bitter taste? Cooking reduces the bitterness, especially when less water is used (steamed, fried, baked, grilled). The bitterness also can be a contrasting accent when combined with ingredients with a sweet note, such as prawns or sweet rice. Some ingredients, such as saffron and cheese, can enhance the bitter character of fava beans. It is a starchy vegetable. If you like potatoes (17.6 g carbohydrate/100 g), you might like fava beans (15.5 g).

Historically, fava bean cultivation dates back to 6000 BC in the eastern Mediterranean region. They arrived in China around 3000 BC, and from there they came to Japan around the 8th century. Among their excellent nutritional qualities, potassium (440 mg)  and calcium (22 mg) are particularly notable, along with other minerals such as iron (2.3 mg) and zinc (1.4 mg). Fava beans are also rich in Vitamin B (B1 0.3 mg; B2 0.2 mg; B6 0.17 mg) and Vitamin C (23 mg) as well as fiber (2.6 g, of which 2.4 g is non-soluble). What all this means is that fava beans provide energy, help lower cholesterol (fiber carries away bad stuff) and blood pressure (potassium assists the body with getting rid of excess sodium), strengthen bones, teeth and nails, prevent anemia, improve skin and hair conditions, prevent accumulation of excess fat in the body and condition your digestive system, to name a few.

Fava beans have tough and bitter skin, and it is usually removed either while fresh or after blanching before main cooking.

Tobanjan, a widely used Chinese seasoning at Japanese homes, is made of fava beans (China is one of the top fava bean producers in the world, along with Algeria and Morocco).

108 kcal/100 g; 72.3% water, 10.9% protein, 0.2% fat, 15.5% carbohydrate, 1.1% ash

Recipes with soramame

Try fava beans in the following recipes

(Last updated: January 9, 2019)

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