My auntie Keiko is my “go to person” when it comes to special recipes such as Inari Sushi. Everytime we go back to Japan, we visit my favorite uncle and aunt in Ise city, Mie prefecture. This is her special recipe using a secret ingredient which makes this Inari Sushi especially rich in flavour and I am going to share the secret with you!
What is Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is a type of sushi with rice balls wrapped in ‘Aburaage’ deep-fried tofu pouches. Known as Inarizushi in Japan this sushi is a little different. “Inari” the name, is derived from the “Inari” Shrine. For an offering to the shinto god Inari, this sushi was used. Because the favourite food of the Shinto god’ messenger fox is said to be Aburaage.
Differences in Kanto and Kansai region
In the Kansai region where I come from, the shape of the tofu pocket is a triangle. On the other hand, deep-fried tofu pockets shape in Kanto are square or rectangle. My mother used to cut the deep fried tofu Aburaage in triangles. I found, however, that the rectangle is easier to put sushi rice balls into the tofu pocket.
What is “aburaage”?
Aburaage is a delicious deep-fried soy product. Thin deep-fried tofu is aburaage. Thick deep-fried tofu is Atsu-age. You can buy aburaage from any Asian grocery stores or Japanese grocery stores. I often use aburaage for making Miso soup and Kitsune Udon. You can freeze them and it will store in the freezer for a month. When making inari sushi, the Aburaage is simmered in sweet soy sauce. Then cooked until most of the liquid evaporates, because in this time the Aburaage absorbs the sweet soy sauce.
Simple Two main ingredients of Inari Sushi
Inari sushi is a typical simple but sophisticated flavoured Japanese dish. Because it is so simple and requires only two main ingredients; Sushi Rice and seasoned Aburaage, we need to prepare those two ingredients well. You will need to read my post on how to make perfect Sushi Rice. We can not compromise sushi rice quality, you need to make it perfect. For preparing tasty tofu pockets to wrap sushi rice balls, follow the tips that I learnt from my aunt Keiko.
When I go back to Japan to visit my family and relatives, I always visit my favourite Uncle and Aunt who live in Ise city, Mie Prefecture. I used to live there too which is famous for Ise shrine, Mikimoto pearl, Ise Udon, Akafuku-mochi etc. My aunt Keiko is a very good home cook. She taught me how to make great inari sushi. Her secret ingredient to make the Aburaage pouch so rich in flavour is “MISO paste”
Kakushi aji is the secret flavour which enhances the entire flavour. For this recipe, Kakushi Aji is “MISO paste”. You will not notice the miso because it is not the dominant flavour but it enhances the fragrance and enriches the flavour as a whole.
3 tips from my aunt Keiko for making inari sushi
- Yunuki – yunuki is removing excess oil off the aburaage by pouring boiling hot water over it
- Add a tiny amount of Miso paste to enhance the flavour.
- Cook the aburaage until all the liquid has evaporated. Why? Because this concentrates the sweet soy sauce base. Also, in this time the aburaage absorbs the sauce which increases the intense flavour.
Q: Can I add something to the sushi rice? Or top the rice with something?
A: Yes of course. I sometimes add roasted white sesame seeds into the sushi rice. Make the sushi rice and when you add sushi vinegar, also add sesame seeds. In Australia, you can buy upside down Inari sushi topped with mayo and crab meat or seaweed. Let your imagination run wild and be creative!
Q: I don’t have Miso, what can I substitute it with?
A: If you don’t have Miso, you can omit the secret ingredient or as one of the readers suggested in the comments below, if you have oyster sauce, you could try it too. Add only a tiny amount.
Q: Don’t we have to roll aburaage pockets with a chopstick or handle of a wooden spoon ro open up the pocket? How do we open the pocket?
A: You would think that the pocket open magically and easily accept rice ball rolling in. Because those pocket cooked long enough till all liquid absorbed and evaporated, it opens up without any extra steps.
Hope you enjoy making my aunt Keiko’s inari sushi recipe. We certainly did. We often cook dishes such as Onigiri rice balls, Gyoza together. My children and I enjoy making Inari sushi together. And If you liked the tips and instructions for Inari sushi, please rate it and leave a comment below.
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Aunt Keiko's Inarisushi
- a sauce pan
- 600 g Sushi rice
- 6 abura age cut them in half and make 12
- 240 ml water
- 1 tsp dashi powder
- 30 g sugar
- 1/2 tsp miso paste
- 25 ml soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp black sesame seeds to sprinkle
- Cook and prepare the sushi rice (my sushi rice uses 2 cups of uncooked rice and I used about 2/3 of the entire cooked rice) *1
- Cut the aburaage pieces in half.
- Pour boiling hot water over the aburaage to remove the excess oil.
- Bring one cup of water in a saucepan to boil over high heat and add dashi powder.
- Add sugar, soy sauce to the saucepan.
- Turn the heat down to medium, add aburaage and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add miso paste and cook until all liquid has absorbed and evaporated.
- Turn the heat off and cool it down completely.
- Make 12 round and cylinder shape sushi rice balls (each weigh about 50 g)
- Open the aburaage pouch gently without breaking and insert one sushi rice ball and close the end side down.
- Repeat this same process for the rest of the 11 aburaage and rice balls.
- Serve on a plate and sprinkle black sesame seeds on top.