Okara is the soybean byproduct left over from making tofu or soymilk. What it lacks in taste (imagine a food even less flavorful than tofu) it makes up in nutritional value offering both soluble and insoluble fiber, calcium, and protein. Because of its pulpy consistency, okara can be fitted into dozens of recipes whether to add body to soups and stocks, as a stand-in for grains in baking recipes, or as a meat substitute.
Buying Fresh Okara
Fresh okara is not typically sold in retail grocery stores. To buy fresh okara you will have to find a soymilk producer, or a tofu producer (an all-natural grocery store should be able to give you some promising leads). These vendors often sell their okara to nearby livestock farms as feed. You might also try calling a local restaurant that serves tofu and ask if they make their tofu in-house.
Buying Dried Okara
Since okara has a very short shelf life (much like tofu and soy milk), if you do find okara in a retail market, it will most likely be dried. Look for dried okara in Japanese or Asian food markets. Okara (a Japanese name) goes by many different names--soy pulp, kirazu, unohana, douzha, ampas tahu--so be patient and persistent in your search. Dried okara can be easily reconstituted for recipes that call for fresh okara.
If you can't find a nearby venue that makes their own tofu or an asian supermarket that sells dried okara, another option is to make your own. Soybeans can be purchased at your local grocer, and you can make both tofu and soymilk in your own kitchen. Both produce okara as a byproduct.
- Photo Credit Soy beans on green leaf image by Monika 3 Steps Ahead from Fotolia.com