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
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:
- 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.
- Cut the one edge of Aburaage to make that pouch. Be careful not to break the Aburaage.
- Boil the Aburaage in water for 1 or 2 minutes to get rid of excess of oil (Aburanuki)
- Drain and cool the Aburaage with water.
- In a pan heat the one and a half cups of water and sake, soy sauce, sugar and mirin.
- 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.
- Cook it for 20 minutes.
- Take the pan out of the heat and let it cool down.
- 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.)
- Mix the vinegar, sugar and salt. Add a piece of konbu.
- Wash rice and keep it under water at least 40 minutes.
- Cook the rice. See how to make rice the correct Japanese way here.
- 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.
- Add sesame seeds and mix them thoroughly.
- Leave the rice to cool down completely.
- Drain the aburaage
- Make rice balls
- Stuff the rice ball in a aburaage pouch.
- Make the Inari shape.
Inari go perfectly with Osuimono.