Let’s Talk Food: Okara from making soy milk

  • Courtesy Audrey Wilson
    Lees left from squeezing soy milk.
  • Courtesy Audrey Wilson
    Fresh okara.

We are lucky here in Hilo. There are three tofu factories — Oshiro, Tomori, and Natural Pacific Tofu — and we can readily get okara after these factories have made tofu.

So what is okara anyway? If you have ever made your own soy milk or tofu at home, you know that okara is the insoluble pulp, or lees, that remains during the production of tofu and soy milk.


To make soy milk you need to soak soybeans in water to cover overnight. The next day, pop off the skins, drain the beans and place in a blender with filtered water. (Two cups of beans, 6 cups water). Puree until smooth.

Strain the liquid into a large bowl through cheesecloth.

Squeeze out as much liquid as possible.

You have made soy milk and what is in the cheesecloth is okara.

Nutritionally, okara has as much protein as tofu, but has 32 times more fiber! It can be added as an ingredient in baked goods, as an egg substitute, in soups and stews, and mixed into a veggie burger.

You can find prepared okara, made by Oshiro Tofu, at the market.

It is actually called “unohana” or sauteed okara with vegetables. You could make it vegetarian or add chicken for more flavor.

Unohana or Sauteed Okara with Vegetables

Serves 4

1 cup okara

1/2 medium onions, finely chopped

4 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/2 carrot, finely chopped

1/2 cup konnyaku (konjac)

1/2 cup aburage (fried tofu)

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon mirin (sweet cooking sake)

Soak shiitake mushrooms in water until soft. Remove caps and chop finely.

Spray pot with cooking spray, add onions, carrots and cook until softened, stirring occasionally.

Add aburage and shiitake mushrooms, stir to combine and cook for 3 minutes.

Add konnyaku, stir and cook 3 minutes.

Add okara and mix well, cook about 5 minutes, until heated through.

Add sugar, soy sauce and mirin and mix well.

Okara with Chicken and Vegetables

Serves 6-8

2 cups okara

1/3 cup boneless chicken meat, chopped

2 dried shiitake mushrooms

1/4 cup string beans, diced

1 medium carrot, sliced into julienne strips, about 1-1/2 inches long

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoons oil for frying

2 stalks green onions, chopped

Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 1/2 cup warm water for 15 minutes. Remove stems. Squeeze mushrooms, reserving water, and chop. Combine chicken, mushrooms, vegetables, and seasoning with the mushroom water in saucepan and cook over low heat for 8 minutes. Set aside. Heat frying pan frying pan and add oil. Add okara, stirring constantly. Add cooked mixture, cook for 4 minutes or low heat until well heated throughout. Stir constantly to prevent burning. Add chopped green onions just before removing from heat.

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Prepared okara makes great sandwiches with the addition of mayonnaise and then spread on bread.

You could also make patties with the prepared okara.

Tofu Okara Patties

1 (7-1/2 ounce) can pink salmon, well drained

1 block tofu, well drained and mashed

1 (8 ounce) container prepared okara

2 egg whites

6 string beans, chopped, cooked in salted water and drained

1 small onion, chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Shape into patties and fry until golden brown on both sides.

Okara Chocolate Cake

1 loaf pan

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons okara

3 large eggs

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar (50 grams)

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy milk (120 grams)

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (50 grams)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line loaf pan with parchment paper. Sift cocoa.

Beat eggs, add sugar, place over double boiler and with an electric mixer, mix till light yellow.

When mixture is warm to the touch, remove from double boiler. Beat on high until thick and whipped.

Place fresh okara into a bowl. Use fingers to break up lumps. Sift cocoa again and this time, mix into okara. Add milk.

Use rubber spatula to mix it in. Add 1/3 of beaten egg mixture. Mix in remaining egg mixture by folding gently.

Add remaining ingredients and gently fold together.

Add to prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and then remove from pan.

• • •

Here is a cookie recipe with okara.

Oatmeal-Okara Cookies

In a medium bowl, mix together:

1 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup quick-cooking oats

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

3/4 cup chocolate chips

In a second bowl, mix until emulsified:

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup okara

1 tablespoon molasses

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Add all ingredients together. Drop by tablespoons on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Foodie Bites

Hawaii Community College’s The Cafeteria is open from 11:30a.m.-12:30 p.m. today through Friday.

Take-out orders are welcome. Call 934-2559 to place your order.

If you enjoy sushi at Ebisu’s Sushi in Downtown Hilo, then check out Yasuhiro Sushi & Japanese at the Keaau Shopping Center, opened on Aug. 1. Open 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. daily, (may close on Wednesdays for now though), you can enjoy various types of sushi and donburi bowls.

During their grand opening period, you can get their Roll Combo for $19.99, with 30 pieces of sushi, enough for 2-3 people.


Both Ebisu’s Sushi and Yasuhiro Sushi & Japanese are owned by Kona resident Yasuhiro Muramachi.

Email Audrey Wilson at audreywilson808@gmail.com.