Spoiler alert: Okara can do everything
For those who have found themselves with a mountain of soy pulp after making a batch of soy milk, you’ve probably wondered what comes next. Soy pulp, though mostly confined within the kitchens of regular nondairy-milk makers in America along with nut and seed pulp, is commonly used in traditional Japanese, Chinese, and Korean cooking. While the vegan corners of the internet buzz with uses for leftover almond or hazelnut pulp, soy pulp, most widely known by the Japanese term “okara”, is just as useful as its nutty counterparts. Often used as animal feed and a natural fertilizer when produced in larger quantities, okara is in fact a wildly versatile ingredient when used in human food. Although the soy pulp is mostly flavorless, okara’s high fiber, protein, and nutrient content make the stuff way too valuable to toss.
While you can buy dried okara at some Asian grocery stores, it’s pretty incredible to make it yourself. After finishing a batch of soy milk (either by soy milk maker or by blender), save the okara in an airtight container and store it in the fridge. As with most freshly prepared foods, okara is best used sooner rather than later. Here are a few things okara hopes it will be when it grows up:
To make soy flour from okara, dehydrate the soy pulp (squeeze the extra liquid out through a dishcloth) in a 200ºF oven until dry, mixing every 15 minutes, which can take up to 4 hours. Grind the dried okara finely in a coffee grinder or small food processor until fine, then go forth and bake. Like most nut-based flours, soy flour is gluten free, so when baking with it be sure not to swap it for all-purpose flour and go on with your life. You’ll need to add a thickener like xanthan gum, increase the amount of leaveners like baking soda or baking powder, and add a bit of cornstarch, arrowroot, or potato starch.
Protein in Stir Fries
Instead of spending money on tofu, chicken, or beef, use okara as tonight’s protein. To make an okara stir fry, simply sub 1 cup okara (extra liquid squeezed out through a dishcloth) per pound of protein in your go-to stir fry recipe. A good method is to saute ½ an onion with 2 cups chopped vegetables, 1 cup greens, and toss a mixture of soy sauce, grated ginger, and scallions.
Perhaps you’re sick of chia and flax eggs? With its high protein content, okara can be added to baked goods as an egg replacer for delightfully crumbly treats. To make 1 okaregg, mix 1 tablespoon of wet okara with 2 tablespoons water and let sit for 5 minutes. Swap in the okaregg (or okareggs, method properly multiplied) for regular eggs in any the recipe.