Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Inarizushi Special and Cucumber Namasu Salad

I discovered Inarizushi when I discovered sushi. It is a fried tofu pocket that is marinated in soy sauce and rice wine vinegar stuffed with sushi rice. Sometimes vegetables, cooked and/or pickled, are added to the rice. For decades it has been and still is a favorite of mine. Fred Meyer, a grocery and department store in the Pacific Northwest, has its own sushi counter in the grocery department. They have an item called Inari Special. It is deep fried tofu pockets stuffed with sushi rice, and then topped off with shrimp, spicy mayo and avocados. The Inari Special is a favorite of mine. It is the inarizushi stepped up a few notches.

                                                      Inarizushi special

During my years of going to various Sushi Bars and Japanese Restaurants, I have grown fond of the cucumber salad that accompanies the meal. It is called a cucumber namasu salad. It is cucumber, sugar, rice wine vinegar, and salt. Sometimes I have had it with shrimp, or octopus (tako), or squid (ika) added to the salad. It also has been known to be garnished with sesame seed and seaweed. One Sushi bar that a frequented knew my preferences and would usually served me the salad with tako (octopus).

                                                 Cucumber namasu salad

I decided to make these dishes in March 2016. I made them on March 7. It was impossible to find unseasoned tofu pockets. I wanted to limit the amount of preservatives. The unseasoned also would allow me to season the tofu pocket how I wished. I used the pre-seasoned ones. This was the first time I made sushi rice. Sushi rice is not just rice. The rice is seasoned with rice wine vinegar, sugar (although I used honey instead), and salt. I had a friend who tried to make homemade sushi.  They did not know that sushi rice was more than just plain white rice. That led to very flavorless sushi. I bought seasoned rice wine vinegar, but it was too salty. The spicy mayo is Kewpie brand, Japanese mayonnaise, and sriracha sauce. I bought frozen salad shrimp and avocados. The then topped the Inarizushi with sesame seeds.

I originally thought about making my Thai cucumber condiment salad using the Veggetti device. The Veggetti device turns vegetables into noodles. I decided to make the Japanese cucumber namasu salad instead using the Veggetti cucumbers. I used the seasoned rice wine vinegar, but it left the dish a little saltier than I had wished. Next time I will use plain rice wine vinegar. Overall this was an enjoyable meal, and I will definitely make this again. 

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