Makes 12 pieces | Prep time 30 minutes | Cook time 40 minutes (not including shiitake soaking time)
Inarizushi is a traditional sushi dish, but also casual finger food. Sushi rice, often mixed with seasoned ingredients such as shiitake mushrooms and hijiki (a type of seaweed), is stuffed into an age — a fried tofu pocket that is cooked with soy sauce and a good amount of sugar. Seasonings and the way rice is wrapped in the age pocket vary. The sweetness of the age makes inarizushi a favorite of children in Japan. My mother used to make large inarizushi on Undokai (Sport Day) and for school field trips. Four decades later, she still makes it for me when I visit her in Japan, and I enjoy her homemade inarizushi even more as an adult. Part of the reason is nostalgia, perhaps, but I also appreciate its simple and satisfying flavors more than ever.
Making inarizushi is fairly simple. You can cook the age pockets in advance and, if
necessary, freeze them for a few weeks. Then make sushi rice, either plain or with a variety of ingredients mixed in, and fill the age pockets. It’s almost picnic season in
Seattle. Let’s make inarizushi for everyone!
- 2 Japanese rice-making cups (360 ml) short grain rice
- ½ cup sushi vinegar (homemade or purchased)
- 2 Tbsp. toasted white sesame seeds
- 6 square sheets sushi age
- 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 200 ml. sake
- 6 Tbsp. sugar
Sushi rice filling (optional)
- 6 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 2-3 cups of water at room temperature for at least 6 hours or overnight
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ cup shelled edamame
Make age pockets
- Place age pieces in a strainer in the sink and pour boiling water over them to
remove excess oil from the surface.
- Cool to room temperature and squeeze them to remove excess liquid.
- Place age on a cutting board and roll a chopstick across the surface of each piece, pressing firmly. This breaks them open inside and makes it easier to form the pockets.
- Cut each age in half (into either triangular or rectangular pieces; both work). Insert a pairing knife into the open end of the age and carefully cut only the inside but not the bottom of the pocket.
Cook age pockets in sauce
- In a medium saucepan, heat 200 ml water, soy sauce, sake, sugar, and age over high heat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to ¼ of its original volume.
- Turn off heat and cool age in the pan.
Make sushi rice filling
- Remove shiitake from soaking water, reserving water. Squeeze shiitake well to remove excess liquid, cut off and discard stems, and mince.
- Place shiitake and 1 cup of reserved soaking water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, add sugar, and cook for about 10 minutes.
- Add soy sauce and cook another 10 minutes, then turn off heat.
- Add edamame if using, and cool mixture in pan to room temperature.
Make sushi rice and mix with filling
- Cook short-grain rice following your rice cooker’s instruction (Using a Dutch oven: Put rice and 1¾ cups water in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off heat and leave lid on for another 15-20 minutes. Fluff the rice with a spatula.)
- While rice is still steaming hot, transfer it to a large bowl, preferably wood (which absorbs moisture from the rice and prevents it from getting too sticky).
- Pour 1/4 cup sushi zu over the rice and mix well with a spatula.
- Add another ¼ cup sushi zu and mix well.
- Using a fan, blow the steam off the rice for about one minute. This step allows excess moisture to escape and makes the surface of the rice shine.
- Mix sesame seeds into rice. Add cooked shiitake and edamame if using.
Cook sushi rice and mix with filling
- Cook short-grain rice following your rice cooker’s instruction (Using a Dutch oven: Put rice and 1¾ cup water in Dutch oven. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the lid on for another 15-20 minutes)
- While rice is still steaming hot, transfer it to a large bowl, preferably wood.
- Pour ¼ cup sushi vinegar over the rice and mix well with a spatula.
- Add another ¼ cup sushi vinegar and mix well.
- Using a fan, blow the steam off of the rice for about one minute. This step allows excess moisture to escape and makes the surface of the rice shine
- Mix minced shiitake and bamboo shoots into the rice. Add sesame seeds and toss well. Transfer the mixed sushi rice into a large serving bowl or plate.
Shape Inari Sushi
- Make 12 small oblong sushi rice balls (about 2 oz. each) to fit the sushi age pockets, wetting your hands with age soaking liquid while forming balls.
- Open one of the pockets and put a rice ball in it, gently pressing it in.
- Place the inarizushi on a serving plate with the open end down. Repeat the process for the remaining pockets.
About Sushi Vinegar Sushi vinegar keeps indefinitely; store unused portion in a glass jar at room temperature. You can purchase sushi vinegar in bottles at Asian grocery stores, where it is sometimes labeled “Sushi Seasoning.” You can also make homemade seasoning by using rice vinegar.
Make sushi vinegar
1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 cup and 3 Tbsp. rice vinegar, ½ cup sugar, and 2 Tbsp. salt over medium-high heat.
2. Cook until sugar and salt are completely dissolved, 2-3 minutes.
3. Remove from heat, cool, and transfer to a glass jar.
Japanese rice washing technique
Put rice in a large bowl and add water to cover it. Without stirring much, discard the
water. With your hand, polish rice gently using a circular motion. Add fresh water to
cover rice, stir again, and drain. Repeat these steps a few times until water is clear.
This process allows removal of extra surface starch and some debris to get a clean
flavor and texture.
Recipe by Kanako Koizumi | www. kozmokitchen.com
Kanako, a native of Akita, Japan, is a chef, author and instructor focused on authentic Japanese homecooking. Chef Kanako also offers in-home private cooking classes for groups up to 12. You can reach her at email@example.com.