Posted in Restaurant Hopping, The Wonders of Japanese Cuisine

On Inari-zushi

No, they're not dumplings

In food as in most things, appearances can be more than a little deceiving.

Case in point would be the dish shown above.  The look like fried dumplings – but really, that’s as far as the resemblance goes because these are actually sushi.  Inari-zushi, to be exact.

A look within

Unlike the more common nigiri-zushi (rice balls topped with raw seafood), makizushi (nori-wrapped rolls), and temaki (conical hand-rolls), Inari-zushi is never bundled or held together with nori.  Instead, it involves the stuffing of sweet vinegared rice into pouches made of deep-fried tofu.  After frying, the tofu is soaked in a mixture of soy sauce, mirin (Japanese cooking wine), and a dab of sesame oil.

It is so named because the corners of the finished pouches look like fox ears – and foxes are sacred to the Japanese grain goddess Inari.  Traditionally, harvest offerings at the goddess’s shrines include bowls of plain rice, cups of warm sake, and these stuffed pouches to please her furry little pets.

Fukuya, best known for the best Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki in southern suburbia, offers a three-piece serve of Inari-zushi for P 101.00.  Unlike most variants of this dish, the vinegared rice isn’t plain but is given a toasty undertone by the addition of toasted black and white sesame seeds.  These plump pouches are quite heavy and are delectably sweet: not sweet enough to pass as dessert, but just enough to intrigue the tastebuds.

I recommend these with a kani salad or a dish of yasai itame (stir-fried mixed vegetables) for an excellent vegetarian lunch.

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Author:

Midge started her career in PR writing at seventeen when she began drafting documentaries for a government-run television station in the Philippines. Since then, she made a career in advertising and public relations which ended earlier this year. These days, she works for a corporate governance advocacy in Makati. Aside from what she does for a living and her poetry, she has turned her home kitchen into a personal culinary lab and is currently working on another novel.

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