Edamame are fresh soybeans that look like bright green lima beans. Their flavor is sweet and mild, with a touch of “beaniness.” Edamame are found in the natural-foods freezer section of large supermarkets and natural-foods stores, sold both in and out of the “pods.” One 10-ounce bag contains about 2 cups of shelled beans. Look for fresh ones at farmers’ markets or natural-foods stores.
Miso is fermented soybean paste made by inoculating a mixture of soybeans, salt and grains (usually barley or rice) with koji, a beneficial mold. Akamiso (red miso), made from barley or rice and soybeans, is salty and tangy, and the most commonly used miso in Japan. Use in marinades for meat and oily fish, and in long-simmered dishes. Shiromiso (sweet or white miso), made with soy and rice, is yellow and milder in flavor; use for soup, salad dressings and sauces for fish or chicken. Look for it in the natural-foods section of most supermarkets and in Asian markets.
Soy flour is made from mature soybeans that have been dried, hulled, split and ground into flour. The texture is denser than wheat flour and it has a pronounced flavor some describe as “beany.” It is available in both full-fat and defatted varieties. Look for soy flour in natural-foods stores.
Soy nuts are mature soybeans that have been soaked then roasted, either in oil or using a dry-roasting process. Crunchy, with a texture like crumbly peanuts, they’re often creatively flavored.
Soy sauce is a dark fermented liquid made from soybeans. It can be found in the Asian section of most supermarkets, in natural-foods stores or Asian grocery stores.
Soymilk is a dairy-free milk made from pressed, cooked and ground soybeans. It can be found in natural-foods stores and in most supermarkets in the dairy case or on shelves in aseptic packaging.
Tempeh is a chewy, nutty, fermented soybean loaf. Find it (plain or with added grains) near refrigerated tofu in natural-foods stores and many large supermarkets.
Tofu is “soybean curd” made by heating soymilk and a curdling agent in a process similar to dairy cheesemaking. The longer the pressing, the firmer and denser the tofu. Silken tofu is delicate and custardlike, perfect for pureeing and using in dressings, smoothies, sauces or floating in delicate soups. Extra-firm tofu is ideal for stir-fries, sautés and grilling, while the soft variety makes a good substitute for ricotta in Italian dishes or for eggs in quiches. Firm tofu is a good all-purpose choice. Tofu is available at natural-foods stores and most large supermarkets. Look for water-packed tofu in the produce section and aseptic-packaged tofu with other Asian ingredients.