Abura Age & Inari Sushi

This is one of my favorite sushi treats and is very approachable for non-seafood or non-Japanese-food people. This is also a good party appetizer as it is easy to eat with fingers!

The special ingredient for inari sushi is the wraper which is called abura age (fried tofu sheet). It is formed similar to a pita pocket in that you can open it like a pocket once you cut it open. Abura age looks like this:

It is sold with quite a bit of oil on the outside, so stick them in hot boiling water for 30 seconds and then drain. They will puff up and lose some of the oil. At this point, you can use them for anything; cut into strips for soup, salads, or in fried rice.

For using as pockets with filling and inari sushi, you will need to season them by simmering in a sauce.

Abura Age Pockets for Inari Sushi
1. Cut each blanched (see above note) abura-age square in half, and use your fingers to open the inside to reveal a pocket

2. Combine in a saucepan and bring to a simmer:
3 C water
2 TB mirin
1/3 C sugar

3. Submerge the pockets in the liquid in the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes

4. Add 6 TB low sodium soy sauce and stir to evenly distribute the coloring on the tofu sheets. Let cook a minute or two more, reducing the sauce a little bit.

5. Remove abura age from sauce and press out the extra liquid. The abura age are now ready to use. You can also use the remaining sauce for simmering vegetables for another recipe.

To make inari sushi: fill prepared abura age pockets with sushi rice, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve. Yum!

Alternatively, you can mix vegetables in to the sushi rice and fill the tofu pockets with this mixture (see photos).
Or you can use the tofu for wrapping just about anything else!

Sushi Rice using "Sweet Brown" short grain rice

Surprisingly, the same method used for regular white rice can be used on short grain brown rice. This is quite tasty as is, used in inarisushi, sushi or stir fried the next day. This quantity will serve 3-4 people as a main dish or 2 people with leftovers.

This can be made ahead and will sit out on the counter for several hours. Once it is refrigerated the sushi texture is lost, so keep it out on the counter, covered with a towel until you are ready to use.

Pour water into a wooden salad bowl and wooden spoon and let soak for 30 minutes or more (this helps keep the rice from sticking). Set aside.

Soak 1.5 C short grain brown rice in 2.25 C water for 20 minutes or more. Then add the following, put the lid on and turn on rice cooker:
2 TB sake
small square of kombu kelp

Meanwhile, combine the rice "dressing" in a small cup and set aside:
3 TB komezu (rice vinegar- don't buy "seasoned" as it has salt and other things added)
1 TB sugar
1 tea salt

Once rice is done cooking, let sit, covered for 5 minutes. Pour soaking water out of wooden bowl and wipe dry.

Pour the hot rice into the wooden bowl. Pour the vinegar dressing over the rice, then stir in broad strokes to combine (don't overmix or mush the rice grains).

Now fan the rice to cool it down which will help it maintain a shiny, pearly appearance.

Glazed Japanese Sweet Potato (DaigakuImo)

I'm not sure how these got the name "college potatoes" (daigaku + imo) but they are tasty. I am trying out recipes from this new Japanese Shojin Ryori book and enjoyed this one! These would be really good at a party served with Asahi beer or sake and they are easy to eat with chopsticks or toothpicks. The only problem is they don't keep well overnight (the potatoes discolor in the fridge), so plan to make them the same day.

Buy "Japanese sweet potatoes" in the store, which are also called satsumaimo. They look like purple yams/sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are big in Japan: there are food carts with roasted satsumaimo with honey, and guys that walk around pulling wood fired ovens filled with sweet potatoes.

Wash and cut 2 Japanese sweet potatoes rangiri-style (into irregular chunks), making most pieces about the same size.

Combine in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium high heat to dissolve the granules:
1/4 C sugar
1/4 C canola oil
2 TB water
1 tea soy sauce
1 tea komezu (rice vinegar)
1/2 tea salt

Dump the cut sweet potatoes into the pan in one layer across the bottom. Simmer gently for 3 minutes.

Stir, cover and cook for another 3 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Now remove the lid and stir to cover the potatoes in the glaze, allowing to cook for 5-6 minutes with the lid off which will reduce the glaze.

Pour onto a serving tray and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Let them cool before eating (I burnt the top of my mouth on one!!)

Cherry Chocolate Shake (Raw Vegan)

Bought 2 lbs of cherries at Costco today- this is a delicious way to eat cherries!

Combine in a high speed blender:
1 C cherries (pitted)
1/3 C walnuts
3 small delget dates or 1-2 medjool dates (pitted)
1/4 vanilla bean (bark & all)
1 TB raw cacao powder (Holy Cacao brand)

1 1/3 C water