In Japan, Edamame is fairly popular and common.
One of the main ingredients for the Japanese cuisine is Daizu (soy bean) and Edamame is actually "fresh soy bean."
Eda means branch, and mame means bean.
It can be eaten as a starter or snack or appetizer. It's fairy mild in taste, and matches with almost anything. Edamame is easy to digest and extremely high in protein and fiber.
In Japan, it is available both in fresh or frozen. In Norway, I have seen only frozen version - with or without pods.
With pods: some of them are pre-cooked. Then, it is only needed to thaw, but I'd prefer tossing them into boiling water until the water boils back again. Then, thaw the water. Chill them until room temperature, and pop the pods and shell them as you would do with peanuts.
Without pods: I'd prefer using them in soup or salad.