Okara meat patties

In Japanese cuisine we eat a lot of soy products, the primary ones being of course tofu, soy sauce and miso paste—but one which may not be as well known is the humble okara. Apparently the English word for okara is ‘soy pulp’ which doesn’t sound great and apparently okara is becoming accepted as an ingredient, so I’ve decided stick with that. Basically they are ground up soy beans that have been squeezed in the process of making soy milk/tofu. They are generally considered a by-product, and it’s always in excess because it’s not as versatile as the soy bean’s other iterations. The virtues of okara in Japan are considered low fat and budget-conscious, but I think that its potential is a little underestimated. It’s also high in protein and vitamins, and could replace meat in a lot of vegetarian dishes.

In Japan we call these meat patties ‘hambaagu’ which comes from hamburger steak. It’s always the kids’ favorite dish and I think it bodes well for those of us with a fear of cooking huge hunks of meat. Usually there’s a mix of beef and pork mince, along with onions and seasoning bound together with egg and bread crumbs. I’ve also made this with tofu instead of okara, but tofu has a very high water content so the patties tend to shrink quite a bit in cooking. However, that said, both tofu and okara make the patties soft and fluffy, so if you can’t find okara where you are, replace it with a well-drained, firm block of tofu.

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Ingredients

200g ground beef
200g ground pork
200g okara, or soy pulp
½ small onion (40g)
1 egg
Pinch of salt
Pinch of white pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup grated daikon, to serve
Sprinkle katsuo bushi (dried bonito flakes)
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This is what okara looks like. It’s flakey and looks kind of like white tuna. If a shop or restaurant is making its own tofu, they would most likely have okara on hand as well. Use it up within a few days as you would tofu, as it doesn’t keep fresh for too long.

 

Mince the onion finely. Heat up a pan with some olive oil and sauté on medium heat.

 

Take the onion off the heat when they are cooked through and slightly browned.

 

Combine ground beef, ground pork, okara, egg, the onions, salt and pepper and mix well using your hands.

 

Granted the mixture looks anaemic and slightly odd, form patties of whatever size you prefer but keep them a uniform thickness.

 

Fry the patties in a hot pan with olive oil for 5 minutes or until browned; turn them over and add water to cover 1/3 of the patties and fry until the water has evaporated and the underside is also nicely browned. Prepare the grated daikon in the meantime.

 

Serve the patties with grated daikon, soy sauce and bonito flakes.

Open printable recipe here



2 Comments

  1. Jessica wrote:

    Thank you for posting, this is such a great, healthy alternative to the traditional hamburger patty. In Indonesia, we also have an ingredient similar to ‘okara’ that is used to produce a tofu/tempeh like patty called ‘oncom’, usually mixed with various herbs to give its color and flavor. But to find the actual base ingredient of ‘okara’ is no easy find here. Is it possible to substitute ‘okara’ with ground up tofu instead?

  2. kiccin wrote:

    Hi Jessica,

    Thanks so much for your comment. Yes I’ve had tempeh before, the Japanese equivalent of the fermented soy bean is probably natto (smelly and stringy beans). To answer your question, yes you can absolutely use tofu and it makes the patties fluffier and healthier. Just make sure you get rid of as much moisture as you can, by leaving it on a paper towel in a sieve while you’re getting the other things ready, maybe at least 30 minutes. You may want to make the patties a bit larger than your desired finished size too, since the patties do shrink a little after losing the moisture from the tofu. Let me know how it turns out!