Someone suggested Inez recently via a post comment that you can use the lees leftover from making tofu to make a soy version of panko. The tip stuck in my mind and I gave it a try the other day. If you’re not familiar with the lees, they are the solids that remain after you’ve pressed out the soy milk. Professional tofu makers have so much of it that they usually arrange for it to be hauled off to a nearby farm to be used as animal feed. But for home cooks who are small batching it, you can turn it into food for humans (you) to eat! Consider the lees a tofu byproduct bonus.
Soymilk lees, often called okara (their name in Japanese) are a great source of fiber and protein. In Asian Tofu, I have a number of recipes that use the okara, including croquettes, cookies and even a little fake meat. I didn’t think of turning okara into a gluten-free panko. It’s a brilliant idea and super easy to execute.
The photo at the top highlights how you can make flakes like oatmeal or cornflakes or crumbles like coarse ground cornmeal. If you’re not making your own soy milk and don’t have the lees leftover, you can buy them or get them for free from a tofu shop. Japanese markets may sell it in plastic bags near the refrigerated tofu section. It looks like this: