One of my favourite side dishes I like to eat when I make Japanese side dish is Unohana, which is made from Okara and various vegetables, like mushrooms and carrots. This is a popular and delicious accompaniment dish for main courses in Japan because it’s nutritious and has a tasty sweet, soy sauce flavour.
What is Okara?
The main ingredient of this salad which known as Unohana is okara, which is a type of soy fibre. Okara is the insoluble pulp that remains during the production of tofu and soy milk after they are pureed and filtered. It is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking because of its nutrient content; many people even use it to make sweets like cookies.
Where do I get Okara?
However, it’s not that common in Australia; there was actually a tofu factory here that was throwing away okara so all the Japanese people would go and collect it for free but now that the factories know that Japanese people use it, they now sell it in Japanese/Asian grocery stores.
Depa-Chika ( department store’s underground floor) foods
Unohana is a side dish for many main meals in Japan, you can eat it along with any main course you like along with some rice or miso soup. In Japan, you can buy it ready-made on the bottom level of department stores that sell all different types of food like sushi and fried foods. I usually like to go down to that floor to eat all the testers for an energy boost while I’m shopping. It’s super easy to make at home yourself though!
Yesterday I was so lucky to have the author of The Food Photography Book, Nagi, from RecipeTin Eats come and give me lots of amazing tips on blogging and how to take stunning food photos like hers! I was so so so excited for this and couldn’t believe I had won this opportunity! She taught me so much and really helped me to find my style of photos. I still can’t believe how great these photos turned out with her tips; somehow she made quite an ugly dish actually look as tasty as it is. Because this dish really is delicious so I hope you give this a go and enjoy eating a traditional Japanese side dish!
- 150 g fresh okara
- 1/2 a medium onion
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 a small carrot
- 50 g konyaku
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 300 ml of the water used to soak the dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 tsp dashi powder
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Green shallots
- Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms for 3-4 hours or place in a bowl with water and microwave for 30 seconds.
- Finely chop the mushrooms, onion, carrot, konyaku, and shallots.
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion until it's translucent.
- Add the other chopped vegetables (besides the shallots) and cook along with the onion.
- Add the okara and cook until it becomes crumbly.
- Add the water used to soak the mushrooms and all the sugar, soy sauce, etc.
- Keep stirring everything together over low heat until the liquid evaporates.
- Add the shallots and cook slightly then turn off the heat.
- Serve in a bowl as a side dish!
Prep time will differ depending on which method is chosen for soaking the mushrooms.