Sushi is usually sushi with sashimi on top of vinegared rice or rolled in nori(seaweed).
Overseas, sushi with rice wrapped around the outside, such as California rolls, is available at many Japanese restaurants.
However, have you ever seen a round, brown shaped sushi?
It's called "Inarizushi" and it's sushi made with Aburaage.
What is Inarizushi?
Inari Sushi is made by boiling aburaage and wrapping it with sushi rice, then stewing the aburaage with sweetened fried tofu, opening it in two and filling it with sushi rice.
Sometimes it's just sushi rice, but there are also various kinds such as sesame and red ginger.
Where did Inarizushi originate?
INARI, meaning fried tofu, refers to Inari Shrine, which enshrines Sadaiko Uka-no-Mitama-Satahiko, the guardian god of rice.
People feared that rats, the natural enemy of rice, were going to outbreaks of rats, so they offered Aburaage, the favorite food of rats, at Inari Shrine to curry favor with them, and before you know it, the foxes, the miscellaneous staff of Inari Shrine, were touting it as their favorite food.
The fox is now nicknamed "Aburaage".
Fox is called KITSUNE in Japanese.
Therefore, KITSUNE Soba with aburaage on top is called "KITSUNE Soba" and Udon with aburaage on top is called "KITSUNE Udon", but in reality, it should have been called "Rats Soba".
Aburaage is related to Inari shrine and KITSUNE.
Characteristics of each area
Pillow-shaped and mountain-shaped
Inari Sushi can be made in two different shapes: pillow and mountain-shaped. Pillow-shaped inari sushi is made by cutting a square piece of fried bean curd in half in the middle or by cutting off one side. In Inari Sushi, a square piece of fried bean curd is cut on a diagonal to form a triangle, and then filled with sushi rice to form a mountain shape.
The different shapes of Inari Sushi, from east to west
In the Kanto area, pillow-shaped inari sushi is common. Dark soy sauce is used for boiling, and aburaage is often used to darken the color of the aburaage.
In some areas of Kumagaya City in Saitama Prefecture, aburaage twice as long as the usual aburaage is used to make Inari Sushi, and some products are wrapped with dried gourd to prevent them from losing their shape.
In the Kansai region, however, the mountain-shaped inari sushi is more common and is called "Agezushi" or "Shinodazushi"; in some areas, the aburaage is turned over, with the white side facing out.
What's in Inari Sushi?
Aburaage is sometimes filled with sushi rice mixed with other ingredients. In western Japan, especially in the Kansai area, sushi with a variety of ingredients, such as Gomoku Sushi, is more common. In most cases, several ingredients such as carrots, burdock root and shiitake mushrooms are mixed in with the rice. Also, instead of sushi rice, mixed rice is stuffed into the mixture, and in the Tohoku area, sushi rice that has been dyed red with food coloring and red ginger is sometimes used.
Hatsuuma-no-hi(First horse day of the year)
Hatsuuma-no-hi is the first day of the first noon in February.
This festival originates from the day when God is said to have descended to Fushimi Inari, which is known as the headquarters of Inari Shrine, and is well known at Inari Shrines across the country.
On this day, there is a tradition of offering Inari Sushi to the gods, called "Hatsuuma Inari", which has been developed into an activity to bring good fortune by eating Inari Sushi on Hatsuuma no Hi.