Have you ever heard of Okara? No, not okra. This little hidden gem of an ingredient is also known as soy bean pulp. It's high in fiber, has many uses, and is a great addition to many dishes.
So read on to learn more about "What Is Okara" and how it can be used along with some easy recipes.
What Is Okara?
Okara or soybean pulp is a high-fiber by-product of soy milk and tofu production. It is a finely ground damp pulp that is white.
What Are Other Names For Okara?
Okara is a Japanese term for soybean pulp it is also known as Unohana in Japan.
Okara can also be known as soy pulp, tofu dregs, bean curd residue, and Yukibana and Kirasu in other parts of the world.
Who Can Eat Okara?
Okara is a plant-based, high-fiber, and protein-rich food that can be a part of both meat and meat-free diets.
It is naturally vegan and vegetarian and is also gluten-free and suitable for people who are gluten sensitive.
How To Make Okara?
Okara is a by-product of making soya milk or tofu. The process is simple and starts with rehydrating dry soya beans in cold water before being processed into soy milk.
There are several ways of making soy milk at home, and here is a basic rundown of how we make it.
After softening the beans, they are processed in batches in a blender with fresh cold water until they become a fine pulp (okara).
It is then strained through and squeezed dry with a muslin cloth to separate the solids (okara) from the liquid (soy milk) leaving you with raw okara and raw soy milk.
Can Okara Be Eaten Raw?
You should not consume raw okara or raw soy milk because they contain lectins and saponins, as these can cause nausea, gas, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting.
Okara and soy milk need cooking to be safe to eat. Heat destroys the lectins and saponins, making it safe to drink soy milk and eat okara.
Raw soy milk should be cooked on the stovetop over medium heat for the time specified in the recipe.
Raw okara can be used in recipes that will be baked, fried, steamed, or microwaved because the heat from these cooking methods will make it safe to eat.
However, you will need to cook raw okara before adding it to dishes that are not cooked, as in salads, smoothies, or sprinkling on top of things.
You can cook quantities of okara in the microwave oven, on high heat for 2-3 minutes.
Or cook it in a frying pan on the stovetop for about 5-8 minutes while stirring until it gets hot and starts to look a little drier.
Read our article on what to do with soy bean pulp for more information.
What Does Okara Taste Like?
Fresh okara made from raw uncooked soybeans (like what we get from our soya milk recipe, where we process uncooked beans, filter, then cook the milk) has a flavor similar to raw mung bean shoots.
Raw uncooked okara must be cooked before consumption because uncooked soy protein is poisonous - see our article on "What to do with soy bean pulp" for details on How To Cook Raw Okara.
Fresh okara made from cooked soybeans (where cooked beans are blended and then filtered) has a neutral or bland flavor.
Dry okara granules and powders have a nutty flavor to them.
Is Okara A Tofu?
No, okara is not a type of tofu, it is the solid residue that remains after making soy milk.
Tofu is a food made by curdling soy milk. The curds are pressed into blocks to form tofu.
What Are Some Ways To Use Okara In Cooking?
Okara has a neutral flavor, and because of this, it works well in many dishes. Here are some ways to include okara in cooking:
- Mix it with other ingredients to make meatless meatballs, falafel, burgers, and other plant-based dishes.
- Use it to add bulk to ground meats to make things; like meatballs, patties, and meatloaf.
- Use it in baking to replace all or some flour in things like cakes, cookies, bread, muffins, and pancakes.
- Use it instead of or with breadcrumbs for stuffings or crumb toppings in savory dishes.
- Use cooked okara to add fiber to smoothies and protein shakes.
- Add it as a thickener in soups, stews, and casseroles.
- Use cooked okara as a topping for cereals or oatmeal.
- Mix it with butter, sugar, and spices to make a delicious baked crumble topping for muffins or cakes.
Health Benefits of Okara
Okara is a high-fiber, protein-rich food that can provide several health benefits. Some of the potential health benefits of okara include:
- Improved digestion: Okara is high in fiber, which can help to support healthy digestion and regular bowel movements.
- Weight management: The high fiber content of okara can also help to promote feelings of fullness and prevent overeating, which can be beneficial for weight management.
- Heart health: Okara is low in fat and cholesterol, which can help to support healthy cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.
- Blood sugar control: Okara is a low-glycemic food, which means it can help to regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
- Immune support: Okara is a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, zinc, and iron, which can help to support a healthy immune system.
How to Store Okara To Keep It Fresh?
To store okara and keep it fresh, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days.
You can also freeze okara to extend its shelf life. To thaw frozen okara, it is best to transfer it to the refrigerator overnight and use it the next day.
Is Okra and Okara the Same?
No, okara is the soya bean pulp that remains after making soy milk. Okra is a long green vegetable also known as ladies' fingers.
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