After making soy milk, I ended up with a lot of spent beans, okara. There are lots of uses for okara, from feeding them to farm animals to making veggie patties out of them. Perhaps inspired from my recent trip to Thailand, I thought their texture would be great for making a vegetarian version of my favorite Thai dish, larb gai. Like tofu, okara (or roughly translated into Thai, tau-hu tor) doesn't have much of a taste and picks up all the bright and spicy flavors in the larb dressing. Unlike tofu, okara, with all the fibrous parts of the beans, has a bit more texture to it. While it contains about a third of the protein that you'd find in tofu, the improved texture and the fact that I'm eating something that I would have thrown away makes it a win-win for me.
2 C okara (or substitute ground up tofu or chicken)
2 T cooking oil
2 T soy sauce (or substitute fish sauce)
1 spring onion, chopped
1 T galangal, minced (or ginger)
1 t lemongrass, minced
3 Thai chilis, minced (use more or less to your taste)
2 T cilantro, chopped
3 T mint, chopped
1 lime, juiced
1 t sesame seed oil
2 T toasted rice powder
6 romaine heart leaves
Step OneCut up all the vegetables, except for the mint. Chop the mint immediately before serving so that it doesn't brown too much.
Step TwoHeat the cooking oil in a pan over medium flame. Add the okara and stir. Let it cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, then stir. Do this a few times to brown some of the okara. This will help give it a bit of textural dimension. Add the soy sauce and thoroughly mix in. Continue to do the stir, sit, stir for about 10 - 15 more minutes.
Step ThreeMeanwhile, to make the dressing, mix the lime juice and sesame seed oil.
Step FourAdd the vegetables to the lime-oil and mix thoroughly. Now is the time to chop the mint.
Step FiveAdd the hot okara, mint, and toasted rice powder to the dressing and mix. Serve over lettuce leaves. I really like using romaine hearts because they're strong enough to hold up to filling with the larb.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Yield: 2 servings