My impulse buy the other day at the Japanese store was a packet of okara, or the left over bits of soybeans after tofu is made. I vaguely recall the first time I tried okara during my childhood – and I remember my mother braised it with vegetables, and told me it was extremely healthy. I remember there wasn’t much flavor to the okara itself, and it seemed more interesting from a textural point – almost a crumbly and powdery mixture of chewiness mixing with the savory vegetables. Interesting “mouth-feel” shall we call it?
Later on, I started working in New York City as a corporate worker bee, and found a great dish made from okara at a lovely Korean restaurant, Cho Dan Gol, known for its handmade tofu specialties. Here, the okara was made into a delicious stew, the focus being on the delicate, sweet, creaminess of the okara mixing with the savory bits of vegetable and meat. I usually craved the restaurant’s sundubu chige, but on occasion, would be able to fight off my habit of reordering the same menu item and try something else – like the Kongbiji, or what I’ll re-dub okara-nabe described above…
This morning, I found myself face-to-face with my packet of okara. My older daughter had recently discovered how delicious poached eggs were, and I decided to make a quick soup with a third of the okara packet, quickly boiled in organic chicken stock, some leftover rice, chopped scallion, chopped broccoli rabe and an organic egg dropped in at the last-minute to poach.
The morning grouchiness quickly lifted when I told my daughter, “Eggies for breakfast!!” She quickly changed, brushed her teeth, greeted her father, and raced to the table. Earlier, I had ladled the soup into two bowls to cool, and once the two girls were in their seats, I drizzled a little soy sauce on top.
The older one took stirred the soy sauce into the soup, and took small bites. “Mama, this eggie is very good,” she said, as she cut the egg into small pieces, and savored each spoonful. “Mama, eggie, eggie,” the little one repeated, and she spooned a large chunk of cooked egg white into her mouth.
I also had a bowl of the soup with the kids, and it was delicious. The okara‘s mild flavor meshed well with the chicken broth, and the soy sauce complemented the overall flavor. The broccoli rabe and scallions added small bites of flavor, and the egg added a richness.
I’ll have to try making it with kombu and shiitake stock over the weekend, and see what else I can add to make it another interesting entry to my repertoire.