Sushi Stuffed Pillows

Inari-zushi

This is sweet vegetarian sushi enjoyed by adults and youngsters alike. Serve it alone or in combination with sushi rolled in laver (next recipe) and garnish your platter or lunchbox with red pickled ginger or other sharp, bright pickles.

Ingredients

  • 4–6 slices abura agé (fried bean curd)
  • ½–⅔ cup dashi (Basic Soup Stock)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3–4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons saké (rice wine)
  • 2 cups cooked, still warm rice (made from 1 cup raw rice according to master recipe)
  • 3–3½ tablespoons sushi su (seasoned vinegar)
  • ½ tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 1–2 tablespoons chopped subasu (Sweet and Sour Lotus Root) and/or amazu shōga (pink pickled ginger)

Method

Quickly blanch the slices of fried bean curd in boiling water to remove excess oil. Drain the slices and pat them dry with paper towels. While they are still warm, cut each slice in half, across its width. Place a slice of the bean curd on the open palm of one hand and slap down on it with the other. From the cut edge, gently pry open the fried bean curd to form a deep pocket or bag. Repeat this slap-and-pry procedure for each of the remaining pieces.

In a wide-mouthed saucepan, combine ½ cup of the stock, all the sugar, 3 tablespoons of the soy sauce and all the rice wine. Heat until the sugar has melted. Place the bean curd bags in the saucepan in no more than a double layer and simmer them for 6–7 minutes over medium heat. If the bags look in danger of scorching, add a bit more stock and soy sauce. Use a “dropped” lid (otoshi-buta, described) for best results. Or simmer uncovered but frequently ladle the liquid over the bags. Let the bags cool to room temperature in the saucepan before draining them of excess liquid.

Sprinkle the rice with the seasoned vinegar and toss it gently with a wooden spoon while fanning it with a stiff fan or piece of cardboard. This helps cool the rice to room temperature while avoiding condensation from the steam. Dry roast the sesame seeds ( for details) and toss them into the rice. Add the chopped lotus root and/or pickled ginger and toss them with the rice. Dampen your hands slightly with cold water, and divide the seasoned rice into 8–10 balls. Stuff each of the bean curd bags with one of these balls.

Arrange the sushi-stuffed pillows, seams down, on a large platter and serve them at room temperature. They can be made many hours in advance and kept in a cool spot, but do not refrigerate them.