Japanese Inspired “Hummus”

Japanese cuisine spans from high-end kaiseki all the way to back-alley ramen shops, but the one thing missing is a good dip. With chopsticks as the No. 1 way to eat your food, it’s easy to see why Japanese food lacks in dipping options.

Hummus, a Middle Eastern favorite, has made its way to the U.S. and hit big with mainstream taste buds. While there are a few Middle Eastern/Israeli restaurants in Japan, this type of cuisine hasn't caught on big here. But just because Japan doesn’t offer up a lot of dipping opportunities beyond your standard sushi in the soy sauce doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a dip packed with Japanese flavors. That’s what inspired me to make my own Japanese style dip.

While the garbanzo bean gets all the credit with many hummus variations out there — and I can see why, since it's both delicious and nutritious — it isn’t the only bean out there. One bean that the Japanese love is the soybean. Edamame is the immature soybean, green in color and typically served in the pod — in fact, edamame is so popular and common in Japan that we even grow it in our garden. 

So why go with edamame? Soybeans are nutritional powerhouses packed with protein. It is, in fact, a complete protein source, which is rare for a plant food. Add in the benefit of the soy content and fiber, and it's a perfect choice for a dip. To stick with the Japanese theme, I added in some ginger and miso. And actually, this dip does borrow one ingredient from your classic hummus — sesame.  Hummus uses tahini, which is a sesame “butter.” Knowing that this flavor pairs well with Japanese food, the tahini seemed like a natural fit. 

Japanese cuisine is simple — you can taste all of the ingredients used in cooking the food, which is why I love this delicious dip. The sesame, ginger and miso flavors shine through. Next time you have a craving for a tasty dip, try something different. You won’t be sorry!

Miso Ginger Edamame “Hummus”

Recipe by Melinda Boyd, MPH, MHR, RD

2 cups frozen, shelled edamame
1/3 cup water
1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
1 TBSP sesame oil
1 TBSP miso paste
¼ cup tahini


  1. Boil or steam the frozen edamame according to the directions on the package.
  2. In a food processor, combine the (drained) edamame with the other ingredients.
  3. Blend until smooth, scraping the sides as needed.
  4. Serve chilled. Garnish with sesame seeds or nori.
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Melinda Boyd
Melinda Boyd, MPH, MHR, RD, is a registered dietitian and military spouse living in Japan. She is co-author of Train Your Brain to Get Thin, and blogs at Nutrition, Food, Travel & More. Follow her on Twitter.