Japan Okara Project
NONNON cooking salon presided over. Member of the superman chef club and member of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Kanto Agricultural Bureau Kanto Region food education promotion network. Book / "Okara,Tofu,SoyMilk, Vegetable Sweets, " "This is Okara Daily Recipe - Calorie and Glucose Gently Off" (Bunka Publishing Bureau)
“Just like white powdery snow!”
It was more than ten years ago, when I first came across OKARA.
Not that I didn’t know what Okara was; my mother used to make “U no hana” with it, but it was at the tofu shop “Nitou” when I first encountered Okara that changed my whole image of the food. This Okara didn’t have the same shape, color or texture as the Okara I used to know. At this store, I experienced eating Okara that was like white snow. It was a beautiful, soft white color, melted on my tongue, and had the faint scent of tofu. I thought, haven’t we forgotten about such an important ingredient all this time that could change the food we eat and how we eat it? From this point on, I have strived to make the best use out of this wonderful ingredient in all of my cooking.
In Japan, approximately a hundred thousand blocks of tofu are made, and from that, 650,000 tons of Okara are made each year. 420,000 tons are used as fodder, 160,000 used for fertilizer, only 5,000 tons used for food, and almost 20,000 tons disposed as waste.
In the past, it was easy to get a hold of Okara at the local tofu shop. There were about 50,000 tofu shops located in Japan about 50 years ago, yet now, there are only 9,500. It has become difficult to obtain fresh Okara because so many tofu shops have gone out of business.
Now, tofu has become a common food not only found in Japan but also in many countries around the world. If you have tofu, then you have Okara. But, even our neighbor China does not use Okara as a common ingredient in cuisine, so it is hard to think that countries far away would. Unfortunately many people think that Okara is just a bunch of strained lees made from tofu, but in fact, it is a healthy and excellent ingredient, full of protein and dietary fiber.
To address this problem, it is important in my opinion that consumers acknowledge the nutrition Okara can provide us, and to learn how to cook and make dishes using it.
And so, here I am, promoting Okara and its benefits as well as sharing with the world the delicious ways to eat it. Beginning with my NONNON Cooking Salon, I have also been delighted with the chance to collaborate with vegetable producers in the countryside, publish recipe books, and do special lectures, hoping for the recognition and to spread the awareness of Okara.
The almighty “Soybean”, which symbolizes Japan, has so many possible ways of being consumed, yet Okara is one way that has been forgotten or ignored by many. It is quite possible that next, I will come to your town to reveal to you, the wonderful uses of this significant ingredient, Okara!
Lastly, I would greatly appreciate your support for my “Japan Okara Project.”