Wednesday, May 21, 2008


OK, on to something Japanese. I have recently stated that I hate Japanese food, but that's not entirely true. I actually love okara, well, okara prepared as unohana. I first tried this at our favorite restaurant in Shimane-ken (a fish restaurant, if you can believe that!) and have since tried making it at home. It's pretty easy to make, though I did have a little help from my friends!


Okara is a tofu by-product. You can read about it here on wikipedia. It says there that the recipe that I am about to share is called 'unohana', though I haven't (yet) heard anyone call it that. We just call it okara.

This is yet another one of those recipes that you can put anything you want in it. At the restaurant I mentioned above, they put squid in it. I know, I hate squid! But, I can't really tell it's in there. I usually put gobo (burdock root), dried shitake, carrot and naganegi in mine, and if I remember, I will also put in some konyaku.

Okara is also great because if you are lucky, you can get it for free! One of the supermarkets in my city has a tofu maker inside, and they just have a big barrel of okara for free. It's self-serve, and I often see people taking a LOT, maybe they take it home and freeze it. The recipe I'm sharing today doesn't take a lot, maybe 200 grams. Here is a picture of some okara that I bought.

okara--marked down to 30 yen

So, the recipe. My mother-in-law gave me a recipe book one year at oshogatsu (New Year), so I am translating this into English, but I'm going to keep the metric measurements.


150 grams okara
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 carrot
4 kikurage
1 negi (Japanese long onion)
1 egg, beaten
1 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 cups dashi
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vinegar

First, you need to dry out the okara, so sautee 150 grams okara in 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a frying pan. Don't burn it. Julienne the carrot, soak the kikurage (a kind of Chinese ingredient, you can find this in the dried section of your supermarket--in Japan--usually near dried wakame and konbu) and then slice thinly into strips. Cut the negi into small pieces, either in disks or long thing strips. (If you want to use gobo, like I do, feel free to use prepared gobo, usually found in bags of water, near the vegetable section in the grocery store. If you use fresh, remember not to peel it, just scrub it well, julienne it to the same length as the carrot, and soak in vinegared water. Either way, rinse and drain it well before cooking.)

In a large pot, heat the sesame oil, then add the vegetables. When they are covered in oil, add the prepared okara. Mix well. Add the dashi, soy sauce, sugar and vinegar. Simmer over medium heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed. Add the beaten egg and stir quickly. When the egg is thoroughly cooked, turn off the heat.


Nay said...

Hi Illahee,

I can't say I actually like 'okara'!! But then, I don't really like any type of tofu! Except for yakidoufu that you put in Nabe!! lol...

Anyway, the actual point of this comment was just to tell you that in Omaezaki (where I worked at a supermarket in the souzai aread), they called 'okara' 'unohana'. So maybe it depends on what part of Japan, to what name it is called??

Y-Maeda said...

Hello nice to meet you.
KO-N-NI-CHI-WA (^_^)v
I am Japanese.
I saw your wonderful site.
Please link to this site !

illahee said...

hey nay!

i have to admit, i really didn't like tofu, either, until i came to japan. by the time i tried it (and didn't like it) i had discovered that there were many foods that i didn't like! i had heard that if you try a food ten times, you get used to it, maybe even like it. so, i thought i'd give tofu a chance. it's so different here in japan, compared to the US, it really is delicious!

illahee said...

thank you y-maeda. let me check out that blog!! :D

davide said...

grazie per la ricetta per l'okara dall'italia


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