Inari sushi is a classic Japanese sushi dish that’s surprisingly easy to make in your own kitchen. You don’t need to book a flight to Japan or order an expensive takeaway meal with our inari sushi recipes!
Inari sushi consists of deep-fried tofu pockets (known in Japan as aburaage), which are then stuffed full of rice. There are only two basic ingredients, but you can season your rice with herbs, sauces, and spices, or you can add other ingredients such as tuna to the mix too.
In today’s article, we asked our sushi chefs to explain the best ways to make sushi with tofu. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about inari sushi.
What is inari sushi?
Let’s start with the basics, though. What exactly is inari sushi?
Inari sushi is a type of sushi prepared from deep-fried tofu pockets, which are stuffed with rice and other fillings.
Inari sushi is also known in Japan as ‘Inarizushi,’ and while it’s a simple sushi dish to prepare, it’s also one of the most ancient and deep-rooted dishes in the country. Inari sushi was traditionally prepared to be given as a gift to the Shinto god of fertility and agriculture, with rice playing an enormous role in both religious life and daily life (as it still does today, in much of the eastern world).
Inari sushi is one of Japan’s most popular snacks, and you can find it in almost any restaurant or convenience store (and even vending machines) across Japan. Combined with other types of sushi or prepared for Bento, inari sushi has a place in the daily diets of many Japanese across the country.
The simplicity of inari sushi ensures that this is one tofu sushi roll that you can prepare at home, too, with little knowledge of Japanese cuisine or cooking techniques.
Inari sushi recipe FAQ
Inari sushi is easy to prepare, as long as you have the right ingredients in your kitchen, of course. Here’s our quick FAQ to help you to become the master sushi chef you’ve always dreamed of being!
How do you eat inari sushi?
If you’re not used to preparing sushi or have limited experience with Japanese cuisine, you might be wondering how you’re supposed to eat inari sushi. First things first, don’t try to eat any tofu sushi recipes with a knife and fork!
In fact, you don’t actually need any utensils. The whole idea of inari sushi is to package up the rice, so it’s easy to eat. You can simply pick up a pouch with your hands and take a bite. Alternatively, you can use chopsticks.
Chopsticks are particularly handy if you’ve got dipping sauces. You can eat your inarizushi with soy sauce or wasabi on the side for an added kick! As we mentioned earlier, inari sushi can be eaten on its own, as a snack, or as part of a large sushi selection or bento box!
How do you make Aburaage from scratch?
Aburaage is tofu that has been deep-fried (usually twice over). The cooking process allows the tofu to puff up and form a pocket (which is similar to a pitta bread pocket) that’s then stuffed full of rice and other fillings.
You can easily prepare your own aburaage at home, which is great if there’s no Japanese section in your local store. While aburaage can be difficult to source, tofu is not difficult to find. For aburaage, you need to remember to purchase firm or extra firm tofu. Firm tofu holds its shape and structure well through the deep-frying process, whereas soft or silken tofu can quickly fall apart.
All you need to do is press the liquid out of your firm tofu block, slice it into 10 pieces, then deep-fry in vegetable oil for up to 10 minutes.
Why do I need to press the aburaage?
You will have noticed that throughout the recipe, we’ve mentioned a few times that you need to press the aburaage. This is an extremely important part of the process, so don’t skip this stage of the recipe.
The reason we press the aburaage is to remove as much of the liquid as we can. If we don’t do this, then we are left with an aburaage that has high water content, which means that it won’t hold its shape well, and it won’t hold the flavours of the marinade.
We recommend pressing the aburaage before cooking it, then pressing again after boiling. You can then press it a third time after marinating. When you’re pressing aburaage, you need to do so carefully to avoid destroying it.
The best way to press aburaage and any other tofu product is using a tofu press. This allows you to remove much more liquid than you can by hand. If you don’t have a tofu press, then you’ll need to cover your aburaage in paper towels and press down using a heavy object. A chopping board works well. You’re also best to leave the tofu or aburaage draining overnight at first, to remove as much water as you can.
How long does inari sushi last?
Once you’ve prepared your inari sushi, you’ll be able to keep it refrigerated for up to 48 hours. We suggest storing any leftovers you might have in a resealable box or a ziplock bag to keep in the flavours. Inari sushi is meant to be eaten cold, so you don’t even need to worry about reheating!
Unfortunately, inari sushi doesn’t freeze particularly well. The rice and tofu combination is a great one for freezing, as it will lose its shape and flavour when you try to defrost it at a later date.
Will you be preparing inari sushi at home?
Are you ready to prepare homemade inari sushi in your kitchen? If you’re looking to expand your cooking repertoire and learn the basics of cooking sushi and other Japanese dishes, then inari sushi is a great way to gently ease into the game!
This simple dish is highly adaptable too, and once you’ve perfected the basic techniques of preparing aburaage and creating the rolls, you can start to experiment with different seasonings and fillings.
Why not prepare our inari sushi recipe instead of ordering from the sushi store?
Inari Sushi: Deep-Fried Tofu Sushi Recipe
2 cups (370g) of sushi rice
1 packet of aburaage (enough tofu to cut into 10 pieces of inarizushi)*
1 cup (235ml) of Japanese dashi broth
3 tsp of miso
4 tbsp of soy sauce
4 cups (946ml) of water
1 and ½ tbsp of sugar
To start preparing tofu sushi rolls, you need to first prepare 2 cups (370g) of sushi rice.
Next, you need to prepare your aburaage (store-bought or homemade). You need 10 individual pockets of aburaage for 10 pieces of inari roll.
Pour 4 cups (946ml) of water into a large pot on the stovetop and bring the water to the boil.
Add your aburaage to the boiling water and allow it to cook for two minutes.
After two minutes, remove the aburaage from the boiling water and cool them on the side. At this point, you may want to lightly press the aburaage in a tofu press to remove any excess water before you prepare your sushi rolls.
Leave your aburaage to one side and pour your soy sauce, Japanese dashi broth, miso, and sugar into the same water in the pot.
Bring the broth to the boil, then lower the heat so it can simmer. When you lower the heat, add your aburaage back into the pot and leave the ingredients to simmer for at least 10 mins. This allows the aburaage to absorb the flavors of the broth, giving you delicious, well-seasoned sushi tofu skin.
Once you’re happy with how well the tofu is seasoned (you can leave it for longer than 10 mins, if you desire more flavor), it’s time to remove the aburaage from the pot again. Again, you need to lightly press any excess liquid out of the aburaage, or it’s going to be too watery to make tofu musubi rolls that don’t fall apart!
With your seasoned and pressed aburaage ready to go, the next step is to roll your sushi rice into uniform sized balls. You need 10 balls of rice that fit into the pockets.
Inari sushi has a distinctive cylindrical shape, so you need to shape your tofu pocket around the rice to achieve this.
Repeat the process until you have 10 inarizushi ready to serve!
*Aburaage are pieces of tofu that have been deep-fried to form pockets. They are an essential ingredient for pocket sushi dishes. You can buy pre-made Aburaage in the store, or you can prepare your own at home from a firm block of tofu. See the FAQs below for more details.