Another staple snack in Hawaii, you will find Inari in every gas station, 7-11, and supermarket. I always enjoyed it because it is essentially sushi without the seaweed! Not being one for nori, these delicious little pouches were vegetarian 90% of the time. Once in a while they’d try to sneak in chopped fish cake. Traditional Inari has the tofu boiled in dashi fish stock. Now I’m hoping that is a Japanese thing and not just Hawaiian vendors failing to label things correctly. This recipe uses vegetable stock to season the aburaage (tofu pouches).
Aburaage is something you will probably only find at Japanese markets, but I’m sure you can easily make your own by thinly slicing tofu, draining it, then deep frying it. Not something to be eaten everyday, but sure a tasty treat! Serve it up with some stir fried veggies or a lovely miso soup with kale!
Inarizushi (makes 20 pieces)
1 pack of Aburaage – Fried Tofu Pouches (usually they come in packs of 10)
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup Mirin Rice Wine or Sake
1/4 cup soy sauce (gluten-free if necessary)
3 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked overnight
1 medium carrot, diced
3 tbsp soaked mushroom liquid or vegetable broth
1 tbsp sake
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 cups uncooked short grain rice (brown or white, whatever you prefer)
3 tbsp rice vinegar (sushi vinegar, sweeter than regular vinegar)
1 tsp salt
Wash and drain the rice. Put the rice in a rice cooker or pot water for cooking, either 3 cups if in a pot on the stovetop or per your cookers’ manufacture instructions. Letting the rice soak in the water for 30 minutes before you start it will make it stickier if you prefer.
Roll the Aburaage with a rolling pin a couple of times to flatten them and to help separate the inner pocket. Cut aburaage in half, I did mine diagonally as is done in Hawaii. The Japanese style is straight across. Carefully open each pouch. Place into a large pot of water and boil for a minute and drain well. This is to remove the excess oil from frying. Replace the water in your pot with the broth, soy sauce, Mirin, and sugar in a pot and boil. Add the Aburaage in stacks, cook for 10-15 minutes. Cook the liquid down and flip the stacks of tofu gently with some tongs halfway through the cooking time.
Stem the mushrooms and slice thinly. Cook the carrot and mushrooms with the sake, sugar, soy sauce, and a little oil until the they are tender and the liquid is completely cooked into a glaze.
Mix rice with cooked vegetables, vinegar, and salt. Stuff each tofu pouch with a ball of the rice mixture. I found it helped to pack it in with a spoon. Serve chilled or at room temperature. Great for packed lunches!