Inari Sushi is vegetarian sushi made of sweet and savory tofu pockets stuffed with sushi rice. They often appear in bento, which Japanese people enjoy during the spring picnic. However, they are also typical offerings at shrines (read more about Inari and shrine here).
Before start making inari sushi, let’s clarify of process and terminology. First is the aburaage: It is a thin unseasoned fried tofu (not to be confused with Atsuage Tofu) often found in the frozen section of Asian grocery stores. Second, to season aburaage, it must be blanched then braised with sugar and soy sauce. From this point on, if you make sushi, it becomes Inari Sushi. If you add them to udon or soba soup, they will be called Kitsune (fox).
You may store Inari (without the sushi rice) in the refrigerator for up to one week. To make it gluten-free, substitute regular soy sauce with gluten-free soy sauce.
- 5 sheets aburaage
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon white sugar
- 1 small piece kelp approximately 1-inch x 1-inch
- 3 cups cooked sushi rice make into 10 balls
- Add kelp to 1 cup of cold water. Set it aside.
- In a medium pot, pour enough water to cover all aburaage and bring it to a boil. Add aburaage to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Submerging aburaage as they float. This process helps remove unnecessary oil from the tofu.
- Remove aburaage from the boiling water and rinse under cold water a bit. Drain excess water by squeezing them by hand.
- In a medium pot large enough to hold all aburaage in about two layers, add cold water with kelp (#1). Turn the heat on low and bring it to a gentle simmer. Once hot, add aburaage and simmer for one minute. Take the kelp out and add sugar and soy sauce. Turn the heat to a low simmer and cook until liquid is almost gone about 10 minutes. Note: To coat the tofu with an even amount of soy and sugar, spoon the liquid and pour over the tofu as it cooks. Also, it helps to turn the tofu often but to keep them flat. Tofu can tear easily, so use gentle hands.
- Once the liquid is almost gone, turn the heat off and let aburaage cool.
- Once the aburaage is cold, cut them into halves, cross-wise.
- Gently separate both sides to make pouches.
- Stuff the pouch with sushi rice and fold the open ends.
- Do the same for all the pockets. Serve them with pickled ginger and a hearty bowl of miso soup or noodle soup.