Japanese vegetable and rice stuffed tofu: Inari sushi

  • Preparation Time30 mins
  • Cooking Time30 mins
  • Serves4
  • DifficultyMedium
200g short-grained sushi rice
250ml water
3 tsp salt
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 medium carrot, diced
85g shiitake mushrooms (about 9), stemmed and diced
1/2 tsp dark sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
25g Japanese yellow pickled daikon (about a 5cm-long piece), diced
1 tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 tsp finely grated lime rind
12 prepared deep-fried tofu pockets (Inari-age), patted dry on paper towels and opened
Daikon radish sprouts, for garnish, optional
Ground sasho pepper, as needed (see Cook's Note)
Serving suggestions: Pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce
1) Combine the rice, water and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Wrap the lid tightly with a clean tea kitchen towel to cover making sure the towel's edges are folded up well away from the heat. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to low, and simmer, covered with the lid, for 20 minutes.

2) Whisk the vinegar and sugar together in a small bowl and set aside.

3) Remove the rice from the heat (don't uncover) and set aside for 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and transfer it to a large bowl. Add the vinegar mixture and toss with the rice, using a wooden spoon.

4) Spread the rice out on a tray lined with non-stick paper. Fan the rice continuously with a fan or magazine until cooled. Cover the rice with a damp towel.

5) Pour about 2.5cm of water into a large saucepan and set up a collapsible steamer inside. Bring the water to boil, put the carrots and mushrooms in the steamer, cover, and steam until tender, about 6 minutes. Transfer the carrots and mushrooms to a large bowl, add the remaining 2 tsp salt, sesame oil and sesame seeds and stir to combine. Let cool.

6) When the vegetable mixture has cooled, add the cucumber, pickled daikon, lime juice and lime rind and toss to combine. Add the rice and, using a rubber spatula, lightly mix with the vegetable mixture.

7) Set a small bowl of water beside you. Lightly wet your hands and form the vegetable rice into 12 small football-like shapes. Stuff the rice into the tofu pockets and press the sides together. Stuff a few tuffs of radish sprouts in the sides, if using. Stand the tofu packages up on a serving platter and sprinkle with the sansho. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce.

Cook's Note: Sansho is Japanese-style Sichuan pepper, available at Asian and health food stores. It is a fragrant, lemony pepper that's literally zippy on the tongue, but without spicy heat. We use it to finish a variety of dishes, from soups to rice to meats.

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