Vegan Soylent Green

Roasted Edamame. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

I still can recall watching the original “Soylent Green” at Kailua Drive-In with my family back in the early ‘70s, featuring Charlton Heston as the lead character, Det. Robert Thorn. The film was set in 2022, when the greenhouse effect has resulted in worldwide pollution, depletion of natural resources, poverty and overpopulation. Because of severe worldwide shortages of housing, water and food, the masses consume highly processed food wafers created from the Soylent Corporation in the form of Soylent Red, Soylent Yellow and the latest food wafer, Soylent Green, supposedly made from plankton. Thorn eventually discovers that Soylent Green is actually made from processed human bodies. Though global warming is still a reality, thankfully Soylent Green hasn’t materialized, or has it?

The Current Soylent Green
The vegan form of Soylent Green has actually been on the market almost as long as “Soylent Green” has been available in Betamax, VHS and DVD, though it goes by its alternate name, edamame. Those flavorful green nuggets are the perfect snack as is, tossed in salads or blitzed in food processors. Because edamame are usually parboiled before freezing, they simply cook by microwaving for three to four minutes. You can also consume them by thawing the frozen pods or beans, but a couple minutes in the microwave helps make the beans more digestible.

Simply squeezing salted pods and having the beans jettison into your mouth is the simplest form of consumption, but I also enjoy the messier version, tossing the pods in a flavorful sauce before eating. It’s messy, but just think of it as consuming vegan chicken wings…

Garlic Shoyu Edamame

Garlic Shoyu Edamame. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

1/4 cup water
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb package edamame in the pod
1/4 cup lower sodium shoyu
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp ginger oil or juice
3 tbsp furikake

Bring water to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat. Stir in edamame and garlic and cook until the garlic softens and edamame is heated and liquid has nearly evaporated, about three minutes.
Reduce heat to medium and stir in shoyu, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar and ginger oil. Stir constantly until sauce has thickened and coats the edamame, about five minutes. Sprinkle with furikake and serve.

I love crunching on crispy oven roasted garbanzo beans. I also love those Marukai fried peas.

Both make great snacks while sipping sake. Well, you can also make chewy snacks with edamame.

Roasted Edamame
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp dried cilantro
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 lb package shelled edamame, thawed

Preheat oven to 425°F.

In a small bowl, stir together oil, cilantro, chili powder, garlic salt, onion powder, cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper.
Drizzle mixture over edamame and toss to coat well. Arrange beans in a single layer in a shallow baking dish and roast, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring at 10 and 20 minutes, until edamame begins to brown.

Serve cooled as a snack.

Those shelled edamame can also be blitzed in a food processor to create a green variant of the usual hummus. Though the flavor profile in this hummus is totally Japanese, I still use the traditional sesame paste or tahini as the combination of bean protein, sesame protein and wheat protein gives you a complete protein rivaling any animal protein.

Edamame Hummus

Edamame Hummus. photo by Ryan Tatsumoto

1 lb frozen, shelled edamame
1⁄4 cup tahini
1⁄4 cup water
4 pickled garlic cloves (shiso katsuo ninniku)
Heaping tbsp each of red pickled ginger (beni shoga) and pink or sushi ginger (gari shoga)
1 tbsp miso (I use Kuze Fuku’s green onion or shiso miso)
1 tbsp shiso furikake
1 tsp white shoyu
2 to 4 tbsp oil (I use either green onion or ginger oil)

Microwave the edamame for three to four minutes.

In a food processor, puree all the ingredients until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until the desired consistency is attained.

Transfer to a small bowl and serve with rice or wheat crackers.

If these recipes haven’t piqued your interest in the vegan Soylent Green, head on over to the 12th Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival, which returns on Saturday, June 22, 2024, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., to The Event Center at St. Mary’s Cathedral, 1111 Gough St., San Francisco

Ryan Tatsumoto is a graduate of both the University of Hawai‘i and UC San Francisco. He is a recently retired clinical pharmacist and a budding chef/recipe developer/wine taster. He writes from Kane’ohe, HI and can be reached at The views expressed in the preceding column are not necessarily those of the Nichi Bei News.

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