All recipes are for 2 servings unless noted. Oil is canola oil and salt is kosher salt.

2017-10-12

Okara-konnyaku / soybean pulp yam cakes

Okara-konnyaku is a hybrid of okara soybean pulp (rich in soluble fiber) and konnyaku yam cake (rich in non-soluble fiber), and has been around for more than a decade in Japan. It is mainly used as a meat substitute for health, weight loss and diet preference reasons. As with konnyaku, okara-konnyaku becomes very chewy after being frozen and defrosted. While konnyaku simply become fibrous after the same process or tofu becomes spongy (like koyadofu freeze-dried tofu after rehydration), okara-konnyaku takes on a meaty texture. Among dishes I have tried, it seems to work best when used like ground meat, especially poultry and pork. Because it is basically fiber, it is very filling by itself. Moreover, it does not cause any heartburn or upset stomach in people who are not accustomed to eating meat, such as myself. This would be a great option for those who routinely eat meat and want to cut back to reduce fat or calories or for other health reasons. You would not notice that your hamburger patties or meat loaf contains okara-konnyaku if the proportion is moderate.

You can find a number of preparation methods and ingredient proportions. Below is my current standard way of making okara-konnyaku at home.


100 g okara-konnyaku, boiled:
52 calories; 2.6 g protein; 1.4 g fat; 8.5 g carbohydrate; 2.0 g net carbs; 3 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 6.5 g fiber

100 g okara-konnyaku, defrosted:
63 calories; 3.1 g protein; 1.7 g fat; 10.4 g carbohydrate; 2.5 g net carbs; 3 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 7.9 g fiber

100 g okara-konnyaku, excess water removed:
86 calories; 4.3 g protein; 2.3 g fat; 14.0 g carbohydrate; 3.3 g net carbs; 4 mg sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 10.7 g fiber


<Ingredients>
(Makes approx. 400 g okara-konnyaku boiled; 320-330 g defrosted; 240 g after removing excess water before main cooking)
10 g konnyaku glucomannan powder
      260 cc water
20 g homemade (fine) kanso okara dried soybean pulp
20 g store-bought (super fine) kanso okara dried soybean pulp
      60 cc water
1 g cal (calcium hydroxide)
      1 tbsp water
30 g nagaimo Chinese yam (or 1 egg yolk)
1 tsp curry powder


<Directions>
1.

Place 260 cc water in a large bowl, and microwave for 80 seconds.

Add konnyaku powder, and whisk until thick like jelly. 
Let sit for 20-30 minutes until somewhat translucent.

2.

Meanwhile, mix homemade and store-bought dried okara with 60 cc water, and let sit until evenly moist.


3.

When konnyaku mixture is translucent, add moistened okara, and mix well with masher (or food processor).


Grate in nagaimo, add curry powder, and mix well .


4.

Start boiling water in medium to large pot.

5.

Mix well cal + water mixture, and swirl in konnyaku + okara mixture.


Quickly mix well.

6.

Wet your hands, form thin patties (any shape), and simmer for 25-30 minutes in gently bubbling water.


Flip okara-konnyaku from time to time, or place otoshibuta drop cover or plate (as in photo at left) to keep okara-konnyaku immersed while cooking.

7.

Drain, and cool.

8.

Once completely cool, freeze.
Freezing on metal baking sheet expedites the process.
(Frozen)
Once frozen, put in zip-lock bag for storage.
 

9.

To use, defrost, and squeeze out water; as ground meat substitute, tear okara-konnyaku and chop with blender, then squeeze out excess water once again before cooking.

<Notes>
  • The weight of okara-konnyaku changes according to stage as listed under Ingredients. With the weight of boiled/cooled okara-konnyaku as 100%, weight after freezing averages 95-97%, after defrosting 80-82%, and after eliminating excess water following chopping 60%, with my recipe.
  • The amount of water to add to different ingredients above is not important (excess water will be eliminated at the end when using okara-konnyaku in main cooking). If your konnyaku mixture or okara mixture seems dry, add more water.
  • My homemade dried okara powder is much coarser than store-bought super fine products, and when using homemade okara alone, finished okara-konnyaku loses quite a few okara granules when squeezing out excess water before main cooking. Blending with store-bought super fine dried okara powder significantly reduces this loss and also improves the texture. 
  • Curry powder gives a faint underlying tone to finished okara-konnyaku without imparting a clear curry taste. It prevents okara-konnyaku from tasting somewhat bland in final dishes. Any spice or onion powder would be helpful to create this effect.
  • When egg yolk is used (photo at right) instead of nagaimo Chinese yam, okara-konnyaku tastes like very light chicken.
  • Konnyaku glucomannan powder is available at the supplement sections of grocery stores in the US.
  • Cal is available at Mexican grocery sections/stores in the US.
  • Baking soda/powder and nagaimo, when used in large quantities, are supposed to be able to substitute for cal. So far in my experiments, 5 times more sodium-free baking powder (potassium bicarbonate) by weight is still not enough to keep okara-konnyaku pieces intact in boiling water.

Recipe with okara-konnyaku

(Last updated: October 18, 2017)

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