Japanese Soybean Salad

I seem to be on a bit of a legume kick lately! First, I made lentil curry, which was soon followed by hummus, vegan chickpea “tuna” salad, and then chana masala. Today, though, it’s all about soybeans.

In traditional Japanese cuisine, beans are used very differently from in the west. In Canada and America we probably find them most often in things like chili, burritos or canned baked beans. But in Japan, beans are commonly used in sweets or in savory side dishes meant to accompany a bowl of rice, while soybeans in particular are used for making tofu, miso paste and natto.

Beans are also much pricier in Japan and are thought of as something of a delicacy to be enjoyed in small quantities, in contrast to the cheap image of beans that we have in North America. But on the other hand, the quality of the beans produced domestically in Japan is incredible. Each bean is often large, perfectly plump and bursting with flavor. I understand why they don’t choose to cover up the taste with garlic, spices and other heavily flavored ingredients!

In Japan, it is also not at all uncommon to buy precooked pouches of beans instead of the typical canned beans that I’m used to back home. I was recently gifted two such packs of soybeans so I decided to try my hand at making a Japanese-style side salad.

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On the package, it says “Naturally rich in calcium. Good for your bones. Non-GMO. Grown in Japan.”

For this dish, I mixed together the following ingredients and let sit for a little bit before enjoying over a bowl of fresh rice.

  • one pouch of cooked soybeans (50 grams)
  • shredded kombu
  • thinly sliced carrot
  • finely diced sweet Mayan onion
  • soy sauce
  • thinly sliced homemade pickled napa cabbage (optional, but adds a great crunch)
  • shichimi togarashi (a lightly aromatic Japanese mixture of spices, seeds and orange peel)

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11 thoughts on “Japanese Soybean Salad

    1. Yes, I was wondering what to call this! At home I actually call this type of thing okazu, but I thought “side-salad” might be the closest English word to okazu. It isn’t quite the same though, is it! I often have a bowl of rice, and small dish of this soybean okazu, along with other small dishes of tsukemono for breakfast. 🙂

      1. It depends on how mainly you eat this dish but it might be more suitable to call it ‘Johbisai’ or ‘Hashiyasume’. I would love to have lots of it on top of hot rice 🍚.

      2. Ah, interesting! So many different terms! I looked up jobisai, and it sounds like it is a dish that you always have around, but since I only made this soybean dish once, maybe it’s not jobisai? So, maybe I should call my hakusai tsukemono jobisai because I almost always have that in the fridge? I’m still not totally sure I understand what hashiyasume is, though. So much to learn! 😛

      3. Yes, ‘Jyobisai’ is something like ‘Tsukudani’ or pickled food that you can keep for a few days and eat as the side dish with main dish. ‘Hashiyasume’ is another term for small dish, such as ‘Sunomono’, you eat between rice and the main dish. 😉

      4. Ah, so many intricacies! I would say that it looks most similar to sunomono, but this dish is soy sauce-based, and has no vinegar. It’s funny that in English I can pretty much only think of the words salad and pickles. Japanese cuisine is very detailed! Love it 😀

    1. Oh that’s so neat that they’re sold near you! It must be a very good shop. I haven’t found this yet near my home in Vancouver. I can only ever get this type of pack in Japan!

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