Foxy Sushi Pockets (Inarizushi)

My friend, Kristen, had a potluck last month to celebrate the Spring Solstice. I got to meet some lovely people and catch up with old friends. There were a handful of tweens and teenagers there, and it was SO refreshing to see friendly, engaging kids with no electronic devices (DS, cellphones, Blackberries, etc.) in sight!

I brought Inarizushi.   Inari refers to the “fox God” in Japanese and zushi is the same as “sushi” (the /s/ turns to /z/ because it’s the second word in a compound noun), so I guess a direct translation could be: Fox Sushi, though I’ve only seen it called “Brown Bag Sushi”or “Cone Sushi” in English. I like the idea of Fox Sushi because I’ve heard it’s the Fox god’s (from the Shinto religion) favorite sushi, and the color of the tofu pockets mimic the color of the fox’s coat, and the pointed corners resemble his ears!

Back row: Mirin, Sake Mid row: tofu pockets, dried shiitake, soy sauce Front Row: carrot, dried gourd strips (kampyo), kelp (kombu)

It can seem daunting to make sushi if you’ve never tried it, but it’s really easy once you have all the necessary ingredients. And this is the easiest sushi of all to make because there’s no rolling or shaping the rice. You must use Japanese white rice though!

I buy my pockets in a can, though it is possible to season your own if you can find plain fried tofu pockets. I stuff my inarizushi with sushi rice mixed with seasoned vegetables, which is the kind I grew up with and learned how to make from my mom. I’ve seen plain ones in places where they sell sushi. I’ll post both the simplified version (plain rice stuffing) and the vegetable version of the recipe.

Should read

This is what it looks like — you can cut the strips with a scissors.

Minced carrots

Dried shiitake

For the vegetables, I use cooked gourd root (kampyo), carrots, and shiitake mushrooms. Because there are several cooking components, I usually cook the vegetables the day before to make my life easier! Then on the day of, I make these a few hours before serving. Don’t refrigerate them if you can help it before serving, or the rice will lose its wonderful glossy, moist texture and harden.

Inarizushi – Fox Sushi
Plain Version

Sushi Rice
2 cups Japanese short grain rice
2 1/3 cups water
3 ½ tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt

Inarizushi tofu pockets (a can contains 16)

1. Rinse and cook rice in rice cooker (my preference!) with water or on stove top. Meanwhile, mix vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. When rice is done transfer to a large bowl and sprinkle a bit of the mixture in while mixing rice in a slicing fashion with a rice paddle or wooden spoon.

2. Carefully open a tofu pocket and stuff with sushi rice gently so you don’t tear the tofu. Repeat with the rest of the pockets. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 16 large Inarizushi

Inarizushi – Fox Sushi
Stuffed with Vegetables and Sushi Rice

For the dashi stock
1 cup water
1 small piece of dried kombu (kelp), about 1-inch by 1-inch
1 pinch of dried bonito flakes

Dried bonito flakes

1. Place water in a saucepan. Wipe piece of kombu with a damp towel and drop in water. Just before water boils, remove and discard. When water comes to a boil, add bonito flakes. Let boil for about 10-15 seconds, turn off heat. Let sit until flakes sink to the bottom of pan. Strain, reserving liquid, and discarding flakes.

For the seasoned vegetables
1 cup dashi, divided
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
4 ½ tablespoons soy sauce, divided
4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 small carrot, minced, about ½ cup
4 4-inch strips of dried gourd (kampyo)
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon sake

1. Soak dried shiitake in a small bowl with about a cup of boiling water. I usually put another bowl on top to weigh the shiitake down so it stays in the water.

This is what it looks like after reconstituting

2. In a medium saucepan add 2 ½ cups water and add kampyo. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes over medium, low heat; drain and set aside.
3. Make two seasoning sauces. In one saucepan add ½ cup dashi, 3 tablespoons sugar and 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Add cooked kampyo to saucepan.
4. In second saucepan, add ½ cup dashi, 2 tablespoons mirin, 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon sake. When the shiitake is soft (after about 15 minutes), remove stems, and finely dice tops. Reserve 1/3 cup of the soaking liquid and add this to second saucepan, and then add diced carrots. Simmer both pans over low heat for about 20 minutes. Strain cooked vegetables and finely dice kampyo (dried gourd strips).

Cooked carrots and shiitake

Cooked and seasoned kampyo

Proceed as in Simple Version, making rice and then seasoning rice with vinegar, sugar, and salt. Then add minced seasoned vegetables to rice.

Stuff mixture into tofu pockets as described in Simple Version.

Makes 16 large Inarizushi

Have you made this in the past? Do you use the plain rice stuffing or do you add other ingredients? Please share!

Also, check out Meals and Moves’ one year anniversary!


Filed under Appetizers, Sides

19 responses to “Foxy Sushi Pockets (Inarizushi)

  1. There’s a restaurant here in Austin called Uchi and they sometimes serve sushi wrapped in soy paper. I’ve never heard of the fried sushi pockets, though. They probably sell them in at our Asian grocery store, but I’d rather try Fox Sushi at a restaurant. I’ve never seen it on the menu anywhere.

  2. I wonder what soy paper is…

    I don’t remember seeing Inarizushi on restaurant menus, but they have them at take out sushi places (pre-made) in containers, and I’ve even seen them at grocery stores… They are the plain version and also smaller (very cute!).

  3. I love how you named the Inarizushi. Foxy Sushi Pocket is such a cool name. I’ve tried different types of inari, but your version is most authentic and my favorite. I love it when I taste Shiitake and Kampyo in inari.

  4. I used to work at a sushi restaurant. I was OBSESSED with sushi rice. Do delicious!

  5. I have never made anything like this but it looks wonderful and I would love to try it!

  6. I have never even had sushi…..but this sure looks interesting!!
    Thanks for linking up to I’m Lovin’ It! Have a GREAT weekend!

  7. OMG !!! i love your food photography and your recipe is pretty self-explanatory !! thanks so much 🙂

  8. Thanks! Hope you try it some time!

  9. cathy dellinger

    What a totally beautiful recipe. I don’t know where in Vermont I will ever find tofu pockets, but the concept is amazing. Thanks!

  10. Thanks!
    They are often at Asian markets, but if you don’t have any, I found this one online — these are the brand I used:

  11. I love Inarizushi! I have only ever made it once at home, using the packet of already sweet and wet tofu pockets and just simple plain sushi rice. I would love to give the vegetable variety a try! I have tasted similar versions before, but never knew how to make the savory type myself. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Always wondered how these were made. Had them first time years ago visiting friend and her family in Mie Prefecture. I crave the street food from Japan now and then. Hope you put up more of these recipes.

  13. Pingback: Crispy Fish Tempura Bites « The Hungry Artist

  14. inari

    Inari does NOT translate to fox.
    Kitsune is fox. Inari is a diety related to the harvest and the fox is a messenger of Inari.

    Fact checking is a good thing.

  15. Liz

    I love inarisushi but can I buy the pockets without MSG, I’m allergic and get headaches.

  16. I love this type of sushi. I do it with carrots and nuts. Not much known in Spain but everytime I do it people love it… 🙂

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