Part of the thrill of exploring a foreign culture is trying new food. With that in mind, I went to the store determined to pick up an item I'd never had before.
Here's what I found in the frozen food section.
Having grown tired of spinach lately, an unfamiliar Chinese vegetable seemed in order.
The open package revealed the following:
I wasn't exactly sure what I'd purchased, but it looked similar to green beans I'd eaten countless times back in America.
Regardless, how difficult could it be to cook and consume a Chinese green bean.
A few days later, I popped my beans into the microwave and sampled my new discovery, or, at least, tried to because my Chinese green beans weren't the easiest things to eat. I chewed ... and chewed ... and chewed some more but couldn't seem to completely consume them.
I assumed I cooked them incorrectly.
Perhaps, the package would reveal a clue.
or maybe not.
I tried again. This time, I stir fried the beans, hoping that would tender them up a bit.
Nope. I still couldn't gnaw my way through my culinary nemesis.
Rather than embarrass myself at work by having to ask some of my Singaporean colleagues how to cook a batch of beans, instead, I asked my girlfriend Alexandra, a self-proclaimed foodie with a refined palate.
She went easy on me, but still chuckled, telling me that my Chinese green beans were actually edamame beans and that the pods aren't supposed to be eaten.
Edamame, soybeans in a shell, is popular throughout Asia as part of a meal or as a healthy snack. In recent years, it's also gained popularity in the United States, which I remembered after my futile attempts to devour the pods.
The pods can be boiled, steamed, or microwaved, so, at least, I got that part right, but the little soy beans inside are all that get ingested. I must admit they're quite tender and quite tasty when eaten correctly.
I guess it could have been worse. I could have bought peanuts.