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How to make Totoro inari-zushi

April 11, 2011

in bento,characters,how-to

A couple of weeks after it officially became Spring, it’s finally starting to get warm! Cherry blossoms will start blooming soon at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. So I’ll do a how-to on great picnic food for Hanami (Cherry blossom viewing).

Character inari-zushi #1: Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Bento #45: Inari-zushi Totoro bento!

Totoro inari-zushi as seen in Bento #46: Totoro with Cherry Blossoms

Inari is fried bean curd cooked in soy sauce, sugar, mirin and water. The skin is juicy and sweet and the inside can be sushi rice, sweet rice, or even plain rice. If you can find fried bean curd, you should definitely try making inari from scratch. It’s juicier than the ones from a can. (I’ll try to get fried bean curd and do a how-to on this soon!) But for those who can’t get fried bean curd or want to always have it handy, like myself, there’s always canned inari skin.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

There are a couple of different brands of canned inari skin.

You can find these quite easily at an Asian supermarket or online stores. Its price varies where you buy them. For example, the orange one on the right is $2.99 at a Japanese supermarket and the one on the left is about $4.50 at a deli by my house. The expensive one comes with an “easy-to-open” top, but that’s the only difference. They both contains the same amount of inari skins and taste pretty much the same.

[How to make Totoro inari-zushi] (using canned inari skin)
Food you need:
- Freshly cooked rice: As much as you want. You’ll use about three TBS of rice for each inari.
- Inari skins: As many as you want. One can of inari-zushi contains about 15 ~ 17 skins. If you don’t use all the skins, keep the skin in a can with the fluid inside. Do not drain the liquid. (The skins will last a couple of days in the fridge. I wouldn’t recommend keeping it longer. It’ll start to get moldy.)
- Seaweed
- Cheese singles
- String beans (only for 4-b. See the instruction below.)
- Uncooked pasta (only for 6-b. See the instruction below.)

Useful tools:
- hole punch, tweezers, toothpick, a straw, scissors

[Prepare seaweed]
While you cook rice, you can go ahead and cut the seaweed. It’s so much easier and goes faster when you have the seaweed ready. You need to cut seaweed for the eyes, nose, whiskers (for 4-a version), and the pattern on the stomach. I used a hole punch for the eyes, and the nose is an eye cut in half. Make sure the seaweed is kept dry until you use it.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Eyes, whiskers, noses, patterns for the stomach

[Prepare rice]
Sushi rice: You can check out how to make sushi rice with only vinegar, sugar and salt.  Or you can get sushi rice powder.

Sweet rice: This is my favorite rice for inari-zushi. You just drizzle the mixture you cook Inari-skin in or the mixture that’s in a can into freshly cooked rice. Make sure you don’t dump in all the mixture at once! Add the mixture little by little and mix before you add more, and don’t let the rice get too soggy.

Plain rice: I’d lightly seasoned the rice with salt, because it’ll make the skin taste sweeter. You can also add a bit of sesame seeds just for flavor but it’s totally up to you.

1. The skin may look like one piece out of a can, but it’s actually a pouch. Peel open the cut-side VERY CAREFULLY.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

2. Cut the skin like in the below photo. (Save the small piece.)

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

3. Make a pocket with your hand, and hold the skin inside your palm, and put rice inside the inari skin. As you stuff the rice in, make sure you don’t over-stuff the inari skin and rip it.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

4-a. Cut the small piece as pictured, this will be the ear. Fold the cut piece, cut a slit on the skin, and insert the cut piece in using a toothpick.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

OR

4-b. (good for beginners) Slice a cooked string bean, cut a slit on the skin, and insert the string bean.

5. Cut out a small circle of cheese, and put seaweed on to make an eye. Cut out cheese with a straw, cut it in half, and put seaweed on it to make a nose.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

6-a. Put seaweed for the whiskers.

OR

6-b. (good for beginners) Cook uncooked pasta in oil until it’s brown. After it’s cooled down, stick it into the body to make the whiskers.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

You can eat Totoro inari with pasta of course (the pasta will get soft enough to eat by the time you eat it), or you can take it out.

7. Put the seaweed on the stomach and you’re done!

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Totoro with inari skin ears (4-a) and seaweed whiskers (6-a)

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Totoro with inari skin ears (4-a) and pasta whiskers (6-b)

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Totoro with string bean ears (4-b) and seaweed whiskers (6-a)

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Totoro with string bean ears (4-b) and pasta whiskers (6-b)

If you’re making this for the first time, I’m pretty sure you’ll rip skin while you’re stuffing the rice into the Inari skin. But don’t panic, there’s a way to fix it.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

Inari skin ripped? No problem.

Just cut a piece of cheese, put some seaweed on it, and make him smile!

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

There. I fixed it.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi

They may look slightly different but they're all equally yummy.

You may feel like it’s hard to keep the shape on its own, but once you put them in a bento box tightly, the rice will be set into the place, and they’ll stay in the shape until you eat them.

How to make Totoro inari-zushi on my flickr

For more pictures of my bento, visit Bento! set and Bento details! set on my flickr page.

If you have any questions about any of my how-to’s, please feel free to leave a comment or email me!

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

bakenekoNo Gravatar April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am

This is awesome! Too good to eat, so precisely, I love it.

Reply

RustkaNo Gravatar April 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

Great post and cute totoro…
I always find your ‘how to’ post very usefull especially for a newbie like me. love it.

Reply

honeydewNo Gravatar April 12, 2011 at 4:45 pm

That’s sooooo cute! Haven’t seen a new post from you in a very long time that I was starting to get a little worried. I was thinking the earth quake in Japan was keeping you away from making new posts. I was not sure if your family in Japan was affected by it, but I sure hope not.

Glad to see you posting again and looking forward to more of your cute bentos making tutorials. <3

Reply

AnnaTheRedNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 10:40 am

honeydew,
Sorry for the late reply! For about a week or two after the earthquake, I was on Ustream all the time because NHK was airing live news in Japanese 24 hours a day, but I’m okay. My family is far away from the earthquake and they’re fine too. I’ve been busy doing freelance stuff so I was only blogging about PAX East and not food related stuff. But I promise you’ll see more food blog posts in the future!

Reply

grubNo Gravatar April 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm

wow i find it quite wierd that inari skins are in cans over there. the ones we have here are in vacuum sealed pouches. nevertheless cute totoro inari :)

Reply

FMNo Gravatar April 13, 2011 at 12:58 am

I would love to try this thanks for sharing :) )

Reply

fennNo Gravatar April 15, 2011 at 2:04 am

oh this is sooooo lovely and cuteeeeeeee !!!!!

Reply

AllisonNo Gravatar April 15, 2011 at 10:47 am

This is so so so cute. Thanks for sharing. :)

Reply

light annie*No Gravatar April 16, 2011 at 11:22 pm

トトロだぁぁぁぁ♪
しかもネコバスまであるし❤
かわいいぃぃぃ!!!

お久しぶり(。-∀-)ニヒ♪
10月3日に待望の4人目が産まれたよ!!
チビ達も大きくなり、団地じゃ狭くなったから引っ越したよ。
中古なんだけど、昭和34年の家でね・・・芝を敷こうと庭掘ってたら入れ歯が出てきました・・・(T▽T)
家の下に井戸も埋まってるしね。。。

最近怖いこと続きだから、プライベートな記事はブログの右上にあるお気に入り登録をしてくれた人だけに見れるよーにしたんだけど、よかったら見てね♪

Reply

squidNo Gravatar March 9, 2013 at 3:57 pm

This place redid your tutorial…. yours is still way cuter! XP
http://www.asiafoodrecipe.com/recipe/totoro-sushi-recipe/

Reply

NaomiNo Gravatar March 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I adore your step by step tutorials! Thank you for sharing. :)

Reply

MikanNo Gravatar February 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Just to let you know, it seems that someone is using your work avoiding the watermark…

http://tendances-so-kawaii.skyrock.com/3206804223-Gourmand-et-kawaii-8.html

The owner of this blogs says that she has found it in tumblr… :/

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