Inari Sushi is sushi rice in a pouch made of seasoned aburaage (deep fried thin tofu). It is sweet but it complements the sourness of sushi rice. It is quite simple to make Inari Sushi, particularly when you use store-bought seasoned aburaage.
Among the various sushi recipes, Inari Sushi is one of the easiest. Unlike other types of sushi, Inari Sushi is very sweet and some people eat it at tea times.
What is Inari Sushi
I called it ‘Inari Sushi’ so that my readers will know that this is a sushi recipe. But in Japan, it is called ‘Inarizushi’ (いなり寿司 or 稲荷寿司), changing the sound ‘sushi’ to ‘zushi’ for easier pronunciation.
The most common traditional Inarizushi is a very simple rice dish that is basically the oval-shaped or triangle-shaped sushi rice ball wrapped in a seasoned aburaage (deep-fried thin tofu). Sometimes the sushi rice contains roasted sesame seeds, cooked vegetables and/or hijiki seaweed.
The modern version of Inarizushi is more decorative with colourful toppings, as you can see some of them in my photos.
The name of this sushi is associated with a type of shrine called ‘Inari Shrine’, which used to worship the deity, Inari. It is said that the favourite food of the fox, the messenger of Inari, was aburaage (deep fried thin tofu) so people offered aburaage to the shrine.
Because the sushi rice is wrapped in aburaage, it is called ‘inarizushi’.
Seasoned Aburaage Pouch
Before filling aburaage with sushi rice, the aburaage needs to be cut in half and cooked in a sweet soy-flavoured broth until the liquid almost evaporates. The aburaage pieces become a bit darker and shiny.
You can make seasoned aburaage pouches at home but today’s recipe is Quick Inari Sushi so I bought a pack of cooked aburaage, ready to fill with rice to make Inari Sushi.
The photo below is the cooked aburaage pouches that I bought from the Japanese grocery store.
The aburaage comes in two vacuum sealed bags. Each bag contains 8 cooked aburaage pouches. If the bag is still vacuum sealed, it keeps quite a while and there is no need to refrigerate it. But once opened, you should keep it in the fridge and use it in few days.
They can also be purchased on-line on eBay and some online Asian food sites. You might also find canned cooked aburaage pouches. They are called ‘Inarizushi-no-moto’.
If you can’t get the cooked aburaage pouch, don’t worry. In the next post, I will introduce a recipe for Home-made Inari Sushi which explains how to make seasoned aburaage from scratch.
How to make Inari Sushi
If you are making traditional Inari Sushi, all you need is sushi rice and cooked aburaage pouches.
Make the sushi rice as per my recipe, Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi). Since Inari Sushi does not contain raw fish, the sushi rice does not have to be completely cooled down. It can be slightly warm if you are in a hurry.
To fill an aburaage pouch, you will need about 30-35g of sushi rice (small handful). You can fill with more or less rice but 30-35g would make it the right size, I think.
Take a handful of rice and squeeze it gently in your hand to shape it into an oval ball.
Store-bought aburaage pouches usually come with a small amount of the liquid the aburaage pouches were cooked in. You need to squeeze the liquid out of the pouches before filling with the sushi rice.
Open the pouch and place the rice ball in it. The rice should fill about half or two thirds of the pouch. Cover the opening by folding one side of the aburaage, then fold both edges inwards. Fold the other side over and place the Inarizushi folded side down.
Inari Sushi Variations
There are different types of Inarizushi depending on the region in Japan. The shape can also be different.
In the northern part of Japan, Inarizushi is made into the squarish oval shape, like my Inarizushi. It represents the rice sack made of straw. But Inarizushi in the southern region is a triangle, which represents the ear of the fox.
Apart from the shape, there are three variations:
- Add cooked vegetables to the sushi rice.
- Use aburaage pouch inside out.
- Decorate with toppings.
In my photos, you can see the last two variations.
When you turn the pouch inside out, you will get quite a different texture and the colour of the aburaage is lighter. The method of making inside out Inarizushi is the same as the traditional one.
Decorating Inarizushi with Toppings
To decorate Inarizushi with toppings, leave the pouch open without covering and place a couple of toppings on the rice. The toppings can be almost anything as long as they go well with sushi rice.
It’s a bit difficult to eat Inarizushi with toppings compared to the traditional one but they certainly look gorgeous.
For the Inarizushi with toppings, I made cooked prawns with diced avocado and seasoned pork mince (ground pork) with Iri Tamago (finely scrambled egg). You can find how to cook seasoned mince (ground meat) and Iri Tamago in my post, Sanshoku Bento (Tri-coloured Rice Bowl).
In Japan, Inarizushi is sometimes made with fancy toppings on special occasions. It is also packed in lunch boxes for school excursions.
My Inarizushi lunch for school excursions when I was a kid was filled with only simple Inarizushi with no toppings. I am not sure when Inarizushi with toppings was invented, but I am pretty sure it didn’t exist when I was a kid.
Inari Sushi is sushi rice in a pouch of seasoned aburaage (deep fried thin tofu). It is sweet but the sourness of the sushi rice makes it easy to eat. It is quite simple to make Inari Sushi, particularly when you use store-bought seasoned aburaage.
Cook Time does not include time taken to cook ingredients, i.e. sushi rice and toppings. Prep time is only to prepare and assemble Inarizushi with prawn/avocado topping which takes longer than making traditional plain Inarizushi.
Don't forget to see the section 'MEAL IDEAS' below the recipe card! It gives you a list of dishes that I have already posted and this recipe that can make up a complete meal. I hope it is of help to you.
- 280 g sushi rice (note 1)
- 8 Inarizushi pouches (note 2)
- 8 medium size prawns , cooked and shelled (note 3)
- 8 tbsp diced avocado
- 8 tbsp seasoned pork mince (note 4)
- 8 tbsp iri tamago (note 4)
- julienned blanched snow peas (optional, note 5)
Divide sushi rice into 8 equal portions. Take each portion in one hand (note 6), squeeze gently and make an oval shaped ball. Make 8 oval shaped balls.
Take an aburaage pouch and squeeze liquid out. If you are making inside out Inarizushi, turn the inside of the pouch out.
Open the pouch and place a rice ball inside the pouch. Push the rice gently to both sides and fill the corners of the pouch with the rice.
Continue to the instructions below depending on the type of Inarizushi you are making.
Fold one side of the aburaage to cover the opening, then fold both edges inwards. Fold the other side over and place the folded side of the Inarizushi down.
Repeat for the rest of Inarizushi.
Place 1 tablespoon of diced avocado on top of the rice, covering half of the surface.
Place a prawn next to the avocado.
Repeat for the rest of Inarizushi.
Place 1 tablespoon of mince on top of the rice, covering half of the surface.
Place 1 tablespoon of iri tamago on the other half of the rice.
Place a couple of julienned snow pea pieces in the centre.
Repeat for the rest of Inarizushi.
1. Please refer to Temakizushi (Hand Rolled Sushi) for how to make sushi rice.
2. I used store-bought seasoned Inarizushi pouches. See the post for details and photo. You can buy them at Japanese grocery stores. You can also purchase them on-line on eBay and some online Asian food sites.
You might also find canned cooked aburaage pouches. They are called ‘Inarizushi-no-moto’.
3. I used a whole prawn on each Inari Sushi but you can cut it into small pieces if you want.
4. Please refer to Sanshoku Bento (Tri-coloured Rice Bowl) for how to make seasoned pork mince and iri tamago. The recipe uses beef mince but you can replace it with pork or chicken if you prefer.
5. Instead of snow peas, you can use a sliced cucumber as an alternative.
6. Wet your hand with the seasoned aburaage to prevent the rice from sticking to your hand.