I learned this recipe for inari sushi from my mother. It's best to prep the pockets (the aburaage) the day before for the flavors to settle. By brushing the cooking liquid on the surface, the inari sushi become even juicier.
Roll the surface of the aburaage with a rolling pin or similar to make them easier to open up. Slice in half, and open them up so that they become little bags. Boil for a minute to get rid of the surface oil.
Put the drained aburaage in a pan, add the ★ ingredients. Cover with an otoshibuta drop lid that sits right on top, and simmer. Turn the aburaage over once as it simmers.
Simmer until there's very little liquid left in the pan, and let cool.
Rinse the rice 30 minutes before you intend to cook it and drain in a sieve. Add a little less water than you normally do, put in the konbu seaweed and cook in a rice cooker.
Put the ☆ ingredients in a heatproof container and microwave for 20 seconds.
When the rice is cooked, add the ☆ sushi vinegar, and mix together while fanning the rice to cool.
Add finely chopped red pickled ginger and white sesame seeds to the rice and mix in. Divide the rice into as many portions as you have aburaage pockets, and squeeze lightly into oblong shapes.
Drain the aburaage, and stuff with the sushi rice. Reduce the remaining cooking liquid, and brush on the inari sushi.
Increase the amount of vinegar and salt in the sushi vinegar to taste.
I think inari sushi tastes better if you use a little less sugar in the rice than you would for other types of sushi.
You could also mix in leftover chopped kinpira (spicy stir-fried carrots and burdock root) or simmered hijiki seaweed into the rice.
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Story Behind this Recipe
This is a recipe my mother taught me.
Make the inari sushi the day before if possible, and stuff the rice the next day. They will taste even better that way. Use a puffy type of aburaage for best results. When you heat sushi vinegar in the microwave, it loses some of the flavor of the vinegar, so don't microwave for too long.