Inari Sushi – For Those Who Don’t Like Seaweed

The Japanese have a strong affinity for seaweed and harvest various varieties along their coastline. Furthermore, as part of their healthy eating diet, seaweed is among their preferred main ingredients in a diverse array of delicacies, including sushi and soups.

But maybe you like sushi yet don’t like the taste of seaweed, or maybe you’ve tried making sushi at home a few times, but the seaweed always comes out too chewy. Inari, nigiri, tamagoyaki, nori-ribbon nigiri, and the California roll are examples of sushi that do not use nori or seaweed. Furthermore, all types of sushi can be made with soybean paper rather than seaweed, though this is uncommon.

While many people enjoy sushi, some people seem to hate seaweed taste. Fortunately, there are many seaweed-free sushi options. If you wish to learn more about the different types of sushi that don’t use seaweed, we’ll go over one of the most popular in this article: Inari sushi.

What Is Inari Sushi?

Inari Sushi, also known as Inarizushi in Japan, is a traditional sushi type made of vinegared rice stuffed inside little deep-fried tofu pouches. They are one of the simplest sushi dishes to prepare at home and can be offered as snacks or as part of your sushi meal. They are also vegan and vegetarian.

Inari sushi, also known as Inarizushi in Japan, is made of sushi rice that has been stuffed within seasoned deep-fried tofu pouches/pockets known as Inari age. The tofu pouches are cooked in a broth made with dashi. After the tofu pockets have absorbed all of the flavors, they are squished to remove any excess liquid and are ready to be packed with sushi rice.

These little golden pouches are the best sushi to eat at a picnic, at home, or on the go, with their savory and sweet taste and toothsome bite. Inari sushi is also a hot item for bento boxes, and maybe you’ll see it packed alongside sushi rolls at the deli.

The History of Inari Sushi

a plate of Inari sushi

Inari sushi has an interesting backstory that explains its popularity. It gets its name “Inari” from the deity guarding the crops. People bring deep-fried tofu pockets (called aburaage) as offerings to Inari shrines in Japan and put them on the shrine grounds, in front of the fox statues.

Foxes are said to be the Inari god’s messengers, and they are said to enjoy aburaage. To express gratitude to the Inari god for good crops, freshly harvested rice was eventually added as a stuffing for the fried tofu pockets.

As a result, the dish has been known as Oinari-san (-san is an honorific title, and O is an honorific prefix) or Inarizushi for more than 170 years.

Inari Sushi Filling

Sushi rice is the primary ingredient in inarizushi. As inari sushi is frequently cooked at home as part of the family meal, there are numerous variations.

Others prefer to keep it simple by adding only sesame seeds, but you can also stuff them with nori sheets, shiitake mushrooms, cooked carrots, shiso leaves, and chicken. They’re all delicious, so experiment with different flavors and ingredients once you’ve mastered the technique.

Inarizushi No Moto or Canned Bean Curd Pockets

Inari sushi pockets are created from bean curd that has been cooked in a dashi, mirin, sugar, and soy sauce mixture. They are ready to use once they have softened and absorbed the flavors.

Where to Purchase Fried Bean Curd Pockets

You can create them from scratch or purchase pre-made seasoned Inari pockets from your local Japanese supermarket. They are available in cans or packages in the refrigerated or frozen section.

If you’re wondering, store-bought inarizushi pockets are also as good as homemade ones, so go ahead and buy the canned ones. And, yes, you can use them in your Inari sushi recipe.

Inari Sushi Ingredients

Toyokawa Inari Sushi Aichi on a plate

Sushi Rice: Cooked short-grain Japanese rice with rice vinegar, sugar, white wine vinegar, and salt.

Inarizushi no Moto or Deep Fried Tofu Pockets: Sushi rice is loaded up into these pouches, so it’s mess-free and easy to eat.

Sesame Seeds: Used to add a nuttiness to the sushi rice.

Ingredient Variations

As previously stated, you can season the sushi rice with various ingredients to make it more interesting. Here are some common ingredients used to flavor Inari sushi in Japan:

  • Shiso leaf
  • Nori sheet
  • Cooked, chopped green beans
  • Shredded egg
  • Chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • Cooked, chopped carrots
  • Edamame
  • Boiled shrimp
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Chopped scallions

Inari Age: Store-Bought vs. Homemade

Homemade Inari age is the best because store-bought ones are much sweeter. However, there are advantages to using the store-bought Inari age. Let us differentiate the two.

Homemade Inari Age

  • Natural ingredients with no preservatives.
  • Seasonings can be adjusted as desired – less sugar, less soy sauce, etc.
  • Vegan-friendly/vegetarian with using kombu dashi.

Store-bought Inari Age

  • To start making homemade Inari age, you’ll require deep-fried tofu pouches, which can be difficult to come by. The ready-made Inari age is more widely available in Chinese/Japanese/Korean grocery stores.
  • Reduce the cooking time for Inari sushi by about one hour.

Try making your own Inari age; otherwise, use store-bought Inari age for your kitsune udon or Inari sushi. Double or triple your recipe and freeze half for later use when making your homemade Inari age.

Inari Sushi: Osaka vs. Tokyo Style

a close up of Inari sushi stacked together

In Japan, Inari sushi is a must-try food to eat, while in Tokyo and Osaka. The shape of Inari sushi in the Osaka area and those in the Tokyo area differ. Sushi rice is completely wrapped within in the Tokyo area, and Inari sushi is molded like a straw bag.

However, in the Osaka area, you can find triangle-shaped fox-ear-like Inari sushi that reveals the sushi rice at the bottom. Other variations include straw bag-shaped Inari sushi with colorful ingredients adorning the top opening. Sushi rice is sometimes mixed with other ingredients inside the tofu pocket to add texture and flavor.

If you love cooking with your children, you should try Inari sushi! You can stuff the sushi rice into tofu pockets together. It’s ridiculously simple and a lot of fun.

Pack Inari sushi inside a bento box with some vegetables for a quick lunch. Serving Inari sushi with hosomaki, futomaki, or temaki sushi (hand roll sushi) as part of your sushi dinner. They’re also a great afternoon snack!