inari-zushi, or “foot ball sushi”
click for recipe.
there is a comic series that Hiroki and I particularly enjoy called March Comes In Like A Lion. One of the characters is a homely, motherly 21 year old who takes care of her entire family (and also surrogates an orphan, the protagonist of the series). for the March 3rd Festival of Girls, she makes inari-zushi instead of the more traditional chirashi-zushi. it’s not glamorous looking, it’s just as tedious to make, but so much more comforting to eat. and the author illustrates it like it’s the most amazeballs thing to eat… so I made some this year to celebrate my baby girl.
the great thing about inaris is that they hold well for transport. every autumn, my japanese school would have a field sports day, and my mom used to pack the big layered lacquered boxes with her inarizushi, onigiris, tamagoyakis, chicken karaage, and mini hamburg steaks. she would wake up at the butt crack of dawn (on a saturday!) so that these huge towers of bento boxes would be ready for lunch. my classmates were always jealous because my bento box was the bomb, and of course my mom would always pack a few extra so that she can invite them to our picnic sheet. so these little footballs remind me of her and my very physically-and-emotionally-nourishing childhood that she selflessly provided us with.
you can fill the inaris with anything that you feel like. my mom tends to go crazy with fillings, and stuffs the sacks with what is essentially a chirashi-zushi: bbq unagi, chopped blanched sugar snap peas and sweet lotus roots. then she flips them upside down and covers the rice with bright orange tobiko. the nice lady who used live down the street from us, she simmered the sacks until the soy-sugar became almost like caramel, and stuffed it with a simple sushi rice. a local sushi shop fills it with plain white rice that’s been tossed with sweet simmered hijiki, carrots, and lotus roots.
Makes 8 footballs
for the packets:
4 fried tofu skins (o-age, or aburaage)
A. 1 cup water
A. 2 tbsp soy sauce
A. 2 tbsp sake
A. 1 tbsp sugar
A. 1 tbsp mirin
A. pinch of salt
for the filling:
2~3 cups sushi rice
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup blanched, squeezed, chopped greens such as spinach, arugula, or wasabi greens
2 eggs, scrambled and broken into itty bitty pieces
1~2 oz broiled salmon, flaked
1. Cut the tofu skins in half, and carefully separate them to make little sacks. Run under hot boiling water to remove excess oil.
2. Combine tofu skins and ingredients A in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil, them reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer gently until most of the liquid is gone, about 20-30 minutes. Let cool and squeeze out excess marinade. Set aside.
3. Take cooled sushi rice and mix in the rest of the ingredients, gently so that you don’t squish the rice.
4. Divide into 8 little balls, shape, and cover with fried tofu sack. Eat gloriously.
if you have any leftover inari skins, you can always throw some on a bowl of instant/frozen udon and upgrade it to a kitsune udon! here, i’ve also added some wakame seaweed and a coddled egg to up my protein intake.