Inarizushi (Sushi Rice Balls in Deep-fried Tofu Pouches)

Japanese Rice Balls in Tofu Pouches

Today I am excited to share with you an Inarizushi recipe and this post is dedicated to our little soccer champ, Bunny!  My grandmother used to have an abundant of these at every family gathering! They were always perfect tasting and perfect looking!  I don’t know how she ever did it, always consistent! She was tough and a typical, extremely efficient Japanese woman, and boy could she could cook up a storm.  No wonder she lived till almost 101! My brother and I loved these as young children and looked forward to devouring them at every holiday.  Inarizushi is a pouch of fried tofu filled with sushi rice. It is named after the Shinto god Inari, who is believed to have a fondness for fried tofu. The pouch is normally a deep-fried tofu called aburaage in Japanese.  You will find these pouches in Japanese or Asian Supermarket’s, usually in the frozen section.  I used House brand Tokusen Sushi-Age below.


To prepare the aburaage, cut each piece in half horizontally and place in a heat proof bowl.  Then add boiling water and cover for about 1 minute to dispose of some of the excess oil.  Drain and let them cool down a bit.  Combine your liquid and sugar mixture and bring to a boil.  Add the tofu pouches and let simmer for about 15 minutes on low heat. Turn the heat off and let the aburaage soak as long as you can, from 1 hour to overnight.  The longer they soak, the better the flavour. Now, they are ready to be stuffed with the sushi rice mixture.

Tofu Pouches

These balls of rice wrapped in deep-fried tofu pouches are sweet, salty and so delicious!  Oiishiyo!!! A little sour as as they are stuffed with sushi rice.  My boys and their friends love these so much!  I will keep trying to make them as good as Grandma!? They are perfect for school lunches and picnics as they keep well without refrigeration. They might be a bit fiddly to make your first time, but once you get the hang of it, they are very easy.  You can also cheat and use already seasoned tofu pouches and use already made sushi vinegar to make your rice.  Homemade is best of course and the flavour can be adjusted to your taste!  You can add edamame, carrots, shiitake mushrooms, gobo (burdock root) or salmon flakes to your sushi rice as well!  Enjoy!


Inarizushi (Sushi Rice Balls in Tofu Pouches)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Japanese sushi rice balls in deep-fried tofu pouches called aburaage. Sweet, salty, a little sour and delicious! Kids love them and they are easy to make! Great for vegetarians and perfect for school lunch or picnics.
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: Japanese
Serves: 20 pieces
  • 10 pieces Fried Tofu Pouches cut in half (Aburaage)
  • About 1⅓ cups dashi (Japanese fish stock) or plain water
  • 3½ tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp sake
  • 2 tbsp mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 3½ tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 cups sushi rice
  • Sushi Rice Recipe
  • 3 cups of sushi rice
  • 2¾ cups of water
  • Rice Vinegar (su meshi)
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • 4 tblsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Rice
  • Wash the rice grains in cold water, drain, rinse and repeat until it becomes almost clear
  • Add the measured water and set aside for at least 20 minutes
  • Cook in a rice maker
  • Vinegar
  • Heat the vinegar, sugar and salt, mix until the sugar and the salt dissolves
  • Add the vinegar mixture slowly to the cooked rice and fan to cool it down
  • When mixing the rice, fold and slice the rice gently so its doesn't get squashed
  • Mix in 1 tablespoon of roasted sesame seeds
  1. Add boiling water to the Aburaage in a heat-proof pan or bowl, cover and let sit for 1 minute to dispose of some of the excess oil.
  2. Combine the stock/water, sugar, sake, mirin and soy sauce in a pot and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat to a simmer, and add your aburaage skins.
  4. Adjust taste to your liking, more sugar for sweeter, more soy sauce for a stronger flavour
  5. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated down to about half the original amount. Turn off the heat and let the skins cool down as long as possible in the liquid. (1-3 hours)
  6. *You can store them in the liquid, covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days*
  7. Optional ideas for Sushi rice:
  8. Mix in edamame, cooked shiitake mushrooms, salmon flakes, grated carrot, gobo (burdock root) into your sushi rice
  9. Make an oblong shaped rice ball using the sushi rice.
  10. Squeeze the aburaage lightly to take out some of the liquid, gently open up the pouch and stuff the rice ball inside. Add more rice if required.
  11. Repeat for all the aburaage
  12. These can be presented with the open end tucked under, skin side up or rice side up or both ways
  13. Serve and garnish with black sesame seeds and Benji Shoga or Gari (Japanese ginger)


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