by Melissa Lee + Amber Lee
Amber was born a couple of days before I turned thirty. She was the best birthday gift God gave me. Her full name is Amber June Lee. The stone, amber, is a honey colored jewel. Her middle name June was to honor my mom, who passed away before I turned one. When my mom learned she was pregnant with me, she already had cancer. The doctor told her if she chose to keep the baby, she wouldn’t be able to live more than a year after I was born. I am forever grateful for my mom for giving me life and sacrificing her own.
Being a mother is the most amazing experience. I think about how Amber has lived up to that name from the moment she entered this world. Because of her, I discovered all of the lasting, beautiful moments that weave together into this amazing thing we call life. Ever since Amber was two, she started to cook with me. When she was three, she was officially promoted as my sous chef in the kitchen. Now she is seven and has started to claim that she is the chef, and I am merely there to “assist” her. We’ve made many delicious memories in our humble kitchen. What’s her favorite comfort food at home? Carrot and shitake mushroom inarizushi.
Inarizushi is a form of sushi consisting of a pouch of fried tofu filled with rice and topped with different kinds of toppings such as sesame seeds, fish roe, avocado, raw fish, etc. My recipe calls for carrots and shiitake mushroom. Shiitake mushrooms have a very strong umami aroma. When I stir fry shiitake mushroom in the kitchen, the house smells heavenly! This is a perfect dish for the lunch box too!
You can get creative about what you want to put in the pouch of tofu for the next day. If you’re on a vegan diet, stick with shiitake mushroom and carrots; if you’re into spicy food, top it with spicy tuna and avocado; if you’re a salmon lover, stuff the tofu pouch with raw salmon and top it with salmon roe. The concept is similar to a taco, but instead of putting your favorite ingredients into a tortilla, you put the ingredients you love into the tofu pouch. Trust me, you will never get bored creating your own Inarizushi!
Prep Time: 30 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Feed: 2 people
List of the tools and special equipment:
- Chef’s knife
- Cutting board
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Medium bowl
- Medium sautépan
Hand tools/ Gadgets:
- Hangiri (Japanese wooden bowl)
- Small spoons
- Dish towel
- Medal specula
- Rice cooker
- Food processor with shredding disc
- 6 Inarizushi (Tofu Bags)
- 6 shitake mushrooms
- 2 big carrots shredded
- 3 tablespoons mirin
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 6 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce (shoyu)
- 3 tablespoons sake (optional)
- Dashi power (optional)
- 2 cups short-grain Japanese sushi rice
- Salmon Roe (optional)
- Scallions thinly sliced
- Shiso leaves
Directions To make the rice
Rice Cooker Method
- Place rice in a fine sieve and place the sieve in a bowl of water. Rinse thoroughly, changing the water in the bowl at least five times until the water runs completely clean when you remove the sieve from the bowl. Drain well.
- Place rice and water into the rice cooker, turn it on, and wait for rice to cook. Proceed to the Finishing Rice Section.
- Allow rice to rest for 20 minutes.
- Invert rice into a large wooden bowl.
- Wet a dish towel and cover the rice. Let it rest.
To make the Sushi
- Soak the dried shiitake mushrooms in a bowl of warm water for at least 30 minutes. Then drain, reserving the liquid.
- Cut off the stems and finely chop the caps.
- Pour some of the soaking liquid into a saucepan and add sugar, mirin, soy sauce, and sake. Bring to a boil.
- Add the carrot and shiitake and simmer for 3–4 mins until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let cool.
- While the rice is still warm, fold in the cooked carrot and shiitake. Dip your hands in the vinegar and then take some rice in your right hand and squeeze the rice to make it oblong and bite-sized.
- Stuff a ball of rice into each bag and fold in the edge (optional). Leave the tofu bag open and garnish with salmon roe, shiso leaves and scallions (optional).
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Here are the Amazon affiliate links for you to order the ingredients and tools to create this delicious dish.