It is truly hard to argue that sushi is delicious in any form. When you combine delicious, and fresh products with vinegared rice, the outcome is almost always wonderful. Thankfully when it comes to sushi there are countless options and types to choose from. While most forms of sushi involve some form of raw fish, there are types of sushi that usually never have fish or seafood products. One of the most common types of sushi that is fish free, is the Inarizushi – or Inari Sushi. A unique style of sushi that is made using deep fried tofu and rice.

Inari? Sushi…

Inarizushi in the simplest terms is an abura age (deep-fried tofu) pouch cooked in sweet sauce, that is filled with vinegared rice. Most commonly the inarizushi consists of only two ingredients, while some regions of Japan are famous for adding in vegetables. This dish derives its name from Inari, the Shinto deity looking over and protecting the crops. It is said that he was fond of tofu. You can find shrines to Inari across Japan. The deity Inari is represented by foxes, which even lends to the shape of a type of inarizushi. It is believed in Japan, that foxes love deep-fried mice, but since the killing of mice is taboo, abura age or Inari-zushi is substituted and left on the alters and shrines of Inari.

These little sweet pockets of delicious tofu and rice have a spongy and soft texture and are a preferred meal, snack, or treat. Blowing up in popularity across Japan, these little pouches provide a cheap and delicious type of sushi that is truly different. As we said before the rice is usually the preferred stuffing or these pouches, but you can easily mix in carrots, shiitake mushrooms, bamboo shoots, Hijiki sea weed and sesame in with you rice. The seasoned Abura age tofu pouches with their sweet taste provide great contrast for the flavored rice inside.

There are different types of the Inarizushi out there. For example, in the Kanto region you will be served a rectangle shaped Inarizushi, where the rice is wrapped inside the tofu and fried. Kanto Inarizushi almost always is served with plain vinegared rice. Kansai region however, serves a more triangle shaped Inarizushi, where the rice is visible at the bottom of the pouch and with one or more added ingredients. The shape resembles the ear of the fox, to further please the deity.

Some History

Type of sushi also known as Oinari-san or Kitsune-zushi (Fox-sushi), is loved by the Japanese for a long time. Introduced to Japanese culture in the 18th century, these rice packed pouches don’t have an exact known origin. While there are mentions of a recipe including deep-fried tofu in the 1782 Japanese recipe book ‘Todu Hyakuchin’, the first Inari-Zushi was created in 1853. By the 1980s, there was nearly 300,000 – 500,000 inarizushi pouches made daily. In fact, nearly 1/3 of all soy beans used to make tofu was used to make the abura age pouches.

While they have been popular for nearly 200 years, the Inarizushi is finally now making its way out west. Inarizushi can make the perfect snack for your cravings, or even a great little addition for your children’s lunch box. The combination of sweet glazed tofu and vinegared rice are truly a marriage made in heaven. Inari Sushi is most chosen so often for a reason, they are delicious, easy to eat and unique. Proving you really do not need to add in fish to make a good sushi. When in Japan these little snacks are a must try.