Homemade tofu and grated ginger with a side dish of okara chicken
Cooking with okara -- the pulpy byproduct of tofu and soy milk -- is a great way to make your meals more nutritious. Okara has been used in many Asian cuisines for centuries, and vegans and vegetarians in the West have recently started to embrace it as a source of protein and calcium.
There are a variety of ways to cook with okara. If you have access to it, or if you make your own tofu and aren't sure what to do with this byproduct, there are lots of dishes you can either supplement with or base on this foodstuff. For anyone interested in cooking with okara, make sure to visit http://okaramountain.blogspot.com. Here you'll find great ideas for using okara in your breakfast (okara cherry almond muffins anyone?), lunch (how about smokin' okara chili?), dinner (how does okara lasagna sound?), and even for snacks and appetizers (e.g., okara hummus?).
The following okara recipe is normally made as a side dish rather than a main course. There's a grittiness to the okara, and while it's generally a flavorless addition, some people find it a little bitter. In this dish, it definitely changes the texture of the cooked chicken and vegetables.
You can sometimes find okara at Asian markets, but it's often hard to find because its shelf-life is so limited. Okara is best used on the same day you make it, though it should be okay to cook with for the next couple of days as well.
Ingredients1 stick gobo (burdock root)
3 shiitake mushrooms
4 whole carrots
1 lb boneless chicken thighs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3-4 cups okara
1/4 cup sake
1 1/2 teaspoons dashi powder
2 cups water
3 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons mirin
4 tablespoons soy sauce
Green onions, chopped
1. Wash gobo about 5 times, then peel and cut into small slivers. Soak in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. Drain.
Slivered gobo soaking in water
3. Peel carrots. Cut into narrow strips and then chop into small pieces.
4. Cut chicken into bit-size pieces.
5. Heat oil in wok. Cook chicken until you can smell the meat cooking (should be slightly browned).
6. Add carrots, mushrooms, and gobo. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
7. Add okara, sake, dashi powder, and water. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
You can use as much or as little okara as you like. We used the entire amount that was produced from making tofu.
8. Add sugar, mirin, and soy sauce. Continue cooking until vegetables are tender.
Okara chicken, ready to serve and eat!
9. Garnish with green onions. Season to taste.