There are a million and one ways to enjoy soya beans that I’ve never tried before and many of them are described in this book that is often recommended as the bible about soya beans: The Book of Tofu by William Shurtleff. It’s partially available online at GoogleBooks, or else many of the community public libraries in Singapore have a copy; check the online catalogue.
The book is not just about tofu, but all kinds of soya bean products, the process of making them – and how to do it yourself (yay!).
Roasted soya beans are a great option to satisfy those TV-snacking cravings, and an alternative to the usual nuts. You can choose to salt or sweeten them or simply eat them plain, as I do.
In Japan, they are called irimame and enjoyed on the first day of the lunar new year. As roasted soya beans represent good fortune, a Japanese tradition is to throw them into the rooms in the house and also out the window. When coated with sugar, starch and nori seaweed, they are called Mishima Mame. (Read more here.)
Ground roasted soya beans is kinako ‘flour’, used for many Japanese wagashi snacks. It is deliciously fragrant and nutty; a super substitute for ground peanuts.
1 cup dried soya beans –> makes 1 cup roasted soya beans
Rinse and soak the beans for 5 to 6 hrs. If salty beans are desired, add salt to the soaking water.
Drain beans and dry them for 1 hr before roasting. Use towels or paper napkins to help soak up the water.
Transfer to unoiled baking trays in a layer 1-bean thick only.
Roast in slow oven of 100ºC-120ºC for 2 to 2.5 hrs or until beans are light brown. Check that the beans inside the lighter-coloured skins do not turn dark brown.
Shake the pans once every 15 mins for the first hour then every 30 mins.
Once done, remove the beans from the oven. They will still be soft, but will turn crunchy when cool.
I made some mistakes along the way by not letting the soya beans dry out enough before putting them in the oven, and piling too many into the same baking tray. As a result, the beans were still soft and moist inside after 3hrs in the oven. I ate a handful of these late in the evening and got bad indigestion that kept me up half the night!
My beans were easily rescued the next morning by dry roasting them in a pan on the stove. This time the beans became noticeably shrunken and were completely dry and crunchy.
The heat was a bit too high hence the burnt look on the soya beans in my photo. You’ll also notice the flaking skins, which come off very easily, just as with roasted groundnuts.