Kanako's Kitchen

Inari

Posted in Recipe, rice by Kanako Noda on February 6, 2010

Inari is sushi, but not as you know it. Variously called Inari, Oinari-san, or Inarizushi, it’s made by filling Abraage pockets with Sushi-rice. As I wrote some time ago, in Japan people don’t really make sushi at home very often (see: Fight the Sushi Monoculture), however Inari is the exception. This is not a fancy dish; it’s a popular food you make and eat at home.

The other day when I was talking with my mother on the phone, she told that she made Inari for dinner. This made me all nostalgic and I got inspired to make Inari, too.

Tradition says that the name inari came from a Japanese shinto divinity that is often associated with a fox. The favorite food of this sacred fox was Aburaage. Sacred foxes or no, historic documents show Inari was already a popular form of sushi in the mid-1800s.


Ingredients (for five):

  • Aburaage –  20 pieces
  • Sake – 1/2 cup
  • Soy sauce  – 3 tablespoons
  • Sugar – 5 tablespoons
  • Mirin – 4 tablespoons
  • Water – One and 1/2 cup

For the sushi rice

  • Rice – 3 cups
  • Water – 3 and 1/2 cups
  • Konbu – one 5 cm long piece
  • Rice vinegar – 5 tablespoons
  • Sugar –  2 tablespoons
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • Sesame seeds – 3 tablespoons

Note:
This recipe comes out better if you prepare the Aburaage before. It would be ideal that you prepare the Aburaage the night before and then, the next morning, prepare the rice to eat the whole thing for dinner.

Preparation of the Aburaage:

  1. Place the Aburaage on a cutting board and flatten it with a rolling pin.
    In this way it becomes easier to open the the Aburaage as a kind of pouch.
  2. Cut the one edge of Aburaage to make that pouch. Be careful not to break the Aburaage.
  3. Boil the Aburaage in water for 1 or 2 minutes to get rid of excess of oil (Aburanuki)
  4. Drain and cool the Aburaage with water.
  5. In a pan heat the one and a half cups of water and sake, soy sauce, sugar and mirin.
  6. When the sauce starts to boil, add the aburaage. Using two layers of kitchen paper towels, make a little dome over the aburaage to seal the moisture in.
  7. Cook it for 20 minutes.
  8. Take the pan out of the heat and let it cool down.
  9. When it gets cold, keep it under the sauce in the fridge covered with plastic rap. This lets the aburaage absorb the sauce.
    (You can make a lot of Aburaage pockets at one time and keep them in the freezer.)

Preparation of Sushi rice:

  1. Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt. Add a piece of konbu.
  2. Wash rice and keep it under water at least 40 minutes.
  3. Cook the rice. See how to make rice the correct Japanese way here.
  4. When the rice is ready, place in a big bowl or handai (If you have a handai, a special plate for sushi, that will be much better. I don’t have one…) . Add the vinegar sauce (remember to take out the konbu first)  and mix thoroughly but DON’T SQUEEZE the grains of rice. While mixing, fan the rice to cool down it quickly. Cooling the rice quickly is very important to make the rice shiny and beautiful.
  5. Add sesame seeds and mix them thoroughly.
  6. Leave the rice to cool down completely.

Make inari:

  1. Drain the aburaage
  2. Make rice balls
  3. Stuff the rice ball in a aburaage pouch.
  4. Make the Inari shape.

Inari go perfectly with Osuimono.

Itadakimasu!

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7 Responses

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  1. Mitchi said, on February 10, 2010 at 1:04 am

    Those look delicious. I’ve never actually tried Inari before (though i keep seeing it in cook books), but I want to, it seems like the kind of thing that would be good for a picnic or a packed lunch.

    • kanako said, on February 10, 2010 at 9:10 am

      Hi Mitchi,
      excactly this is popular for picnic and packed lunch in Japan 🙂
      Try it!

  2. foodlabasia said, on February 18, 2010 at 12:56 am

    I love inari! 🙂 You can do so many things with it! 🙂

  3. Token said, on March 22, 2010 at 7:55 am

    Wow, this blog is just great! I love to make bento and also learing more about the japanese cuisine. Your blog is just perfect for me! Thanks for sharing all the great photos and information! I’ll also try the inari soon! ❤

    • Quico said, on March 24, 2010 at 9:09 pm

      Wow, I can’t read German, but the Tamagoyaki photos on your blog look great, Token. Welcome!

  4. lifeaspenknowsit said, on March 25, 2010 at 5:08 am

    thankyou for the great instructions and photos. i love inari, and now feel like i could make it at home!

    • kanako said, on March 27, 2010 at 9:42 am

      I love Inari, too. And it’s easy to make. So enjoy cooking at home!


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