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Brown Bag Sushi


These look humble, but they're one of the most delicious, I-want-more foods that Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid know. Known in Japanese as inari-zushi, they are easy and fun to make. The main ingredient is Japanese-style fried tofu, called abura-age; do not use Chinese-style fried tofu.

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  1. Twelve 5-by-2-inch Japanese-style fried tofu rectangles (abura-age)
  2. Boiling water
  3. 1 1/2 cups reconstituted hon dashi (instant Japanese fish stock), light vegetable stock or water
  4. 5 tablespoons mirin
  5. 5 tablespoons Japanese soy sauce
  6. 3 tablespoons sugar
  7. 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  8. Sushi Rice
  9. Japanese pickled ginger, for serving
  1. Put the fried tofu pieces in a large heatproof bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover; drain immediately. When cool enough to handle, squeeze out the water. Cut the rectangles in half crosswise, making 24 almost-square pieces, each with one side that opens to form a pocket.
  2. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the stock with the mirin, soy sauce and sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the tofu squares and stir to moisten. Cover with a lid that will keep the tofu submerged and simmer gently over low heat for 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. Before using, gently squeeze the tofu to release any liquid and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. In a small skillet, toast the sesame seeds over moderate heat, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Let cool on a plate.
  4. Shape about 3 tablespoons of the Sushi Rice into a flattened oval. Slide it into a tofu pocket to just fill it. Repeat with remaining rice and tofu. Cover with a damp cloth until ready to eat. Serve the sushi with a generous pile of pickled ginger and a small bowl of the toasted sesame seeds for dipping.
Make Ahead
The pockets can be prepared up to 3 hours ahead and kept covered at room temperature.