Now that Jeff and I make our own tofu, we have become connoisseurs of okara. Okara is the "honorable pulp" that is what's left in the cheesecloth after pressing out the soy milk from the beans. I think it's fair to say that we eat the okara faster than we eat the tofu. We've reviewed a recipe for okara burgers but now I'd like to introduce our own invention: okara meatballs.
These meatballs have become one of my favorite foods. They're very versatile and Jeff and I keep coming up with new ideas for tweaking the recipe for various applications. Just today I made the Italian style recipe, and instead of forming balls to bake, broke it up into chunks and fried it in olive oil on a skillet, mixing it with marinara to make "meat" sauce. It was really thick, but hit the spot after an 8 mile run, when I want to eat something quick, delicious and filling.
In this recipe, I I don't recommend using raw okara, but okara that has been cooked in a soy milk maker or simmered before manually extracting the soy milk. It really does make a big difference in the final product.
Yield: 2-4 servings
1 cup okara
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp garlic powder (feel free to use 1-2 cloves finely minced garlic)
2 tsp onion flakes (similarly, substitute 1/4 small onion finely minced)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp ketchup (or tomato paste)
2 tbsp water
Spices: Italian Version
1/4 tsp black pepper (or 1/2 tsp if you really like black pepper)
1 tsp Italian seasoning (or mix of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary and sage)
1 tsp taco seasoning (or mix of paprika, chili powder and cayenne pepper)
If baking, preheat oven to 350oF (175oC).
Mix all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Use your hands to work the ingredients together and get the gluten nice and elastic.
Form into 12-16 balls and place in a glass baking dish. Bake in the oven at 350oF for 20-30 minutes until golden brown.
Form into many teaspoon sized balls and fry in your favorite oil on a skillet for 10-15 minutes until golden all around. Making small meatballs is important as the larger ones won't always fry through completely, leaving a very elastic center.
Jeff and I love the baked meatballs served over pasta and topped with marinara, freshly crushed black pepper and nutritional yeast.
Fry the Italian version, not in meatballs but in tiny broken-up chunks, and mix with your favorite marinara to make a "meat" sauce.
Similarly fry the Mexican version to create a delicious "ground beef" substitute for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or your favorite Mexican meal.
Add many tiny fried (or baked and broken up) Mexican meatballs to your favorite mac-n-cheese recipe before baking the mac. (My favorite mac recipe comes from the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook.)