Perhaps the most popular deity in Shinto belief, Inari is the kami of fertility, prosperity, agriculture and foxes. One of the favoured foods of Inari is abura-age or fried tofu, so these sweet pouches of fried tofu stuffed with rice have become a preferred offering at his shrines and a delicious snack for their patrons. The largest shrine dedicated to Inari is in Fushimi, Kyoto, famous for its thousands of vermilion torii, and on the roads leading up to the shrine’s entrance you’ll find stalls selling these treats. You can often find these in sushi restaurants, bento meals or convenience stores, but because of the foxes and their love for them they’ll always remind us of the hour and a half walk up Inari mountain and the peaceful glades found along the way.
- 2 cups cooked Japanese rice
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- First, prepare a quantity of cooked Japanese rice. You can find instructions how to do this on our post here.
- Add the sugar and salt to the rice vinegar, and stir well to dissolve. Pour this sweetened vinegar mixture over your cooked rice while it is still hot, so it will absorb the flavours, then set aside and leave to cool slightly so you’re able to handle it.
- 45g abura-age
- 300ml water
- 80ml soy sauce
- 25g sugar
- 20ml mirin
- 1/2 teaspoon dashi stock powder
- Mix all the ingredients except the abura-age in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
- Cut each piece of abura-age into two along the width, giving you six short pouches which are open on one side and sealed on the other three. Drop them into the liquid and cook for five minutes. Turn off the heat, allow to cool completely and soak up some of the sweet, salty liquid.
- Pour a small amount of rice vinegar into a bowl of water and use it to keep your hands moist while filling the inarizushi, this will help to stop the rice from sticking to your hands too much. Drain the abura-age and slightly dry it with some kitchen roll, make a small ball of rice and compact it slightly in your hands, then press into the opening. Continue to fill the pouch with rice until it is 3/4 full, form it into a neat shape and fold the excess wrapper underneath. Place to one side and repeat until you have filled all your abura-age pouches.
- Serve with pickled ginger and wasabi.
Makes 6-8 inarizushi depending on the size of your abura-age.