Getting Started
Where to Buy Japanese Food

How to Cook Japanese Rice
Aburamushi Rice

Sushi Robots

Miso Soup
Gyoza Soup

Main Courses
Crab and Cucumber with Golden Dressing
Butt-Kicking Dipping Sauce
Lemon Cheese


Japanese Sweets

Kitsune-zushi, Inari-zushi

Fox Sushi

  Kitsune-zushi (fox sushi) with pickled ginger

Pickled ginger is delicious with kitsune-zushi.

Japan was—and according to some people, still is—filled with fox spirits, mischievous and lascivious creatures that take the place of fairies, poltergeists, and succubi in Japan. The more virtuous of them join the court of Inari, the god/goddess of the rice harvest, and become his/her messengers. On certain holidays, worshippers travel to Inari's shrines and offer the multitude of statues of foxes plates of thin slices of fried tofu stuffed with rice, their favorite food, to honor and to placate them.

One would expect such sophisticated and dangerous creatures to demand an equally sophisticated dish, but fried tofu stuffed with rice—kitsune-zushi, "fox sushi," or Inari-zushi, "Inari sushi"—is one of the simplest sushis out there. Lightly sweet, vegetarian, and fully cooked, it's excellent for long trips, and it's so simple to make that even beginner sushi chefs find it a breeze.


2 or 3 cups of plain, steamed white rice
A can of Inarizushi-no-moto (little pita pockets of fried tofu canned in mirin syrup. Some versions come canned in soy sauce, but the final taste is much different from this recipe.)


  1. Get the Inarizushi-no-moto out of the can. This is a major pain in the tuckus until you've gotten the first couple of pieces out. As you take each piece out, try to get as much syrup off as possible. If you tear a piece, you now face a terrible decision: Keep it and make it into sushi despite its crippling flaw, or eat it as is?

  2. Mix some of the syrup in with the rice—enough to flavor the rice, but not enough to cause the rice to completely fall apart. Add a dash of soy sauce if you want a less emphatically sweet flavor.

  3. Open an Inarizushi-no-moto carefully. Wet your hands so the rice won't stick, then pick up some rice, pat it into a ball, and stuff the Inarizushi-no-moto. You might want to start with a small ball and add more once the first rice is in the pocket. The rice should be packed firmly, but not hard; according to one sushi aficionado, a perfectly packed ball of sushi rice offers "the pleasant sensation of gently expanding in the mouth." Fill the pocket with a little room to spare at the top so that you can close the pocket.

  4. Fold the edges of the pocket over one another and place the completed kitsune-zushi on a tray opening-down so that the pocket stays closed.

  5. When you're done making kitsune-zushi, you can drizzle a little of the remaining syrup over the plate or scatter a few toasted sesame seeds.

There are plenty of variations on this recipe. You can mix toasted sesame seeds in with the rice, arrange the pocket open-end-up, etc. Instead of mixing the syrup in with the rice, you can make your own sauce with mirin and soy sauce. Other cookbooks have recipes for non-sweet kitsune-zushi, which are made in the same way but use Inarizushi-no-moto canned with soy sauce.

Uncommon Ingredients

Inarizushi No Moto

Inarizushi-no-moto canned in mirin syrup