The judges were full of beans for this event.

It’s that time of year again when all the stars of beantown come out to shine, and the question on everyone’s salty lips is: Who will take home the Grand Prize in the Japan Vegetable Sommelier Association’s 2nd National Edamame Championship? Hopefully, they’ll come up with a shorter nickname like “Oscar” but this is only the second one and we have to let these things happen organically.

And speaking of “organically,” this is the premier event in which the top growers of green soybeans, known as “edamame” in Japanese cuisine, gather to crown the best in the country. It took place on the afternoon of 20 July in the Tsukiji Square Building in Chuo, Tokyo.

The Grand Prize, as well as a Gold Prize, two Silver Prizes, and three Bronze Prizes, was chosen by a panel of 28 licensed vegetable sommeliers, experts in Japanese produce tasked with promoting it both at home and abroad.

So, without further ado, let’s find out the best edamame in the land!

Grand Prize
Boten Kaoru by Peakfarm in Saito, Ehime

According to the judges, these beans have a high degree of sweetness and an almost fruity aroma. This is accompanied by a deep umami and firm texture, with a slightly corn-like appearance. Peakfarm says this is achieved with careful attention to the timing of the harvest to ensure peak freshness.

Gold Prize
Tengu Shirushi Edamame by Takuya Hayashi of the Numata-Tone Vegetable Shipping Association in Numata, Gunma

The plump size of these individual beans impressed the judges the most, and they were said to have a rich umami taste at first bite that gives way to a sweet aftertaste, making you want to eat another. Fukuichi accomplishes this by quantifying the deliciousness through levels of sugars and amino acids.

This same bean grown by Yoshino Fukuichi of the same association also won a Silver Prize. It was praised for its elegant shape and texture, with a sweetness comparable to rice.

Silver Prize
Echigo Hachikoku Chamame by Grand Farm in Kashiwazaki, Niigata

The second Silver Prize went to these beans for their unique sweetness, which is likely because they are chamame rather edamame. The two types of beans are very similar but chamame can only be grown in certain regions and don’t have as long a shelf life as edamame, making them harder to come by in many parts of Japan.

The three Bronze Prizes went to Kurosaki Edamame for its rich flavor, the “cute” appearance of Ugono Edamame, and Echigo Yaseki Chamame with its keen balance of color and taste.

Really though, it’s hard to miss with edamame, but if you have some really important dinner guests and want to present yourself as someone who knows their beans, these are the brands to look for.

And if beans are a little too dry for your liking, the Japan Vegetable Association is currently preparing for the 2nd Peach Championship on 3 August. That’s sure to be a juicy one.

Source, images: PR Times
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