Inari sushi is not widely known in the United States yet, but it is great for vegetarians who want to try sushi. Basically, it’s a great hearty meal made from rice stuffed in an aburaage (fried tofu) pouch cooked in a sweet shoyu (soy sauce) sauce. This is an easy sushi that you can make at home for dinner or even prepare for a potluck party!
- About Inari Sushi
- Kinds of Inari Sushi
- How to cook Inari Sushi? (Inari Sushi Recipe)
- Easy Pre-made Abura-age (Fried Bean Curd) for Inari Sushi
About Inari Sushi
Unlike other types of sushi that use fish, seaweed or other ingredients, inari sushi is quite simple in the sense that it only consists of two ingredients – fried tofu and sushi rice. The name inari comes from the fried tofu that is used. In Shinto religion, the god Inari represents the god of foxes, fertility, and success and he loved fried tofu and because of that, the sushi wrapped in the fried tofu pouch has been called inari sushi. Some areas in Japan call this style “kitsune sushi” (Kitsune means fox in Japanese, also coming from the fact that Inari was the god of foxes), like the kitsune udon, which is an udon noodle with the fried tofu pouch added as a topping.
Fried tofu is normally called “abura-age”(pronounced “abura-agay”) which means oil fried, and is used common in various dishes to substitute for meat. You will find it in miso soups and stir fried dishes. In order for abura-age to become an inari, it must be cooked in a special sweet sauce. The abura-age acts as a sponge and absorbs the sweetness, and when made into an inari sushi, the sumeshi (vinegar rice) and sweetness of the inari make the inari sushi a great snack.
Inari sushi is served at local sushi restaurants, but some expensive sushi restaurants will refuse to serve them. Inari sushi without any fancy ingredients is priced reasonably priced when compared to other sushi on the menu. Because of its simplicity, you will be able to find them at Japanese supermarkets as well. You can find packaged inari pouches at the market and it is very common for Japanese families to bring inari sushi to picnics in addition to regular rice balls. Some families will go the extra mile by preparing sushi rice with other ingredients such as carrots and shiitake mushrooms.
Kinds of Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is eaten throughout Japan, and most of these regions tend to associate fried tofu with the god Inari. There are, however, minor differences among the different regions. Below are some of the regional differences between inari sushi in Japan.
Aomori (North Japan) region – Inside the inari locals will put pickled ginger (beni-shoga) and walnut in their sushi rice. As a result, you will have a red sushi rice inside the inari.
Menuma (Saitama) region – While a normal inari sushi is about 3 inches long and 2 inches wide, the inari sushi from this region is much larger, around 7 inches long. It is often sold with another type of maki sushi.
The inari skin is cooked in a darker thicker sauce, and the surface of the inari sushi will have a dark caramel color. However, you will find restaurants that will serve the lighter color inari over the darker, sweeter inari.
Kansai (Western Japan) region
Kansai families will often mix the sushi rice with other ingredients. Ingredients will range from carrots, kanpyo, sesame, shiitake mushroom, etc. Inari sushi with mixed sushi rice may be called gomoku inari sushi. In this region, you may also find triangular shaped inari.
Okinawa style inari sushi does not cook the abura-age in the sweet sauce, and instead use the unseasoned abura-age and call it inari sushi.
How to cook Inari Sushi?
Inari Sushi Recipe
Good for potluck party or picnic!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- Abura-age (deep fried thin sliced tofu) 8 squares or 4 rectangles
- 3 cups sushi rice
- 2 cups water
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 4 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice wine)
- 1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
- Cut one side of each abura-age. Carefully open each abura-age to make a pouch. Boil the prepared abura-age in hot water for a minute and drain well.
- Place water, soy sauce, sugar and mirin in a pot and boil. Add the abura-age, cook for 15 minutes with slow heat and let cool.
- Mix sushi rice and sesame seeds well. Make 8 small oblong rice balls Squeeze the abura-age just a little and stuff rice balls in the pouches.
Easy Pre-made Abura-age (Fried Bean Curd) for Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is pretty easy to prepare, all you do is fill seasoned abura-age (fried bean curd) with sushi rice flavored with sweet rice vinegar. The abura-age pouches are seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, and sweet cooking sake. But if you are not ready to prepare the inari abura-age sushi pouche then start with these pre-made ones!
Shirakiku Inarizushi No Moto
The Shirakiku’s abura-age pouches are pre-cooked and pre-seasoned and come in a can of 16. All you have to do is stuff the pouches with the sushi rice and they’re ready to go! The abura-age is seasoned with soy sauce, sugar and sweet cooking sake, and is a bit salty because it is meant to be eaten with the rice filling, so don’t eat it by itself.
Hime Inarizushi No Moto
All the goodness of abura-age in one can! The Hime Inarizushi No Moto comes with about 15 pre-seasoned abura-age pouches. The image on the can shows the cubed shaped sushi, so don’t be confused when you open the can and see thin sheets of abura-age. Once you fill it with the flavored rice it will look just like the one on the can!
Misuzu Inari Sushi Pouches
You can find Misuzu Inari Sushi pouches in the refrigerator section in a plastic package. It comes with 16 slices of pre-seasoned abura-age ready to be stuffed with the flavored rice. Even though these are pre-made they contain no artificial coloring or preservatives! The picture on the package shows an inari sushi with fancy toppings, so if you want to dress up your dish use this image as inspiration.