Whole Foods' Spicy Shrimp Inari

For this attempt, we took a few (hundred?) steps outside of our comfort zone in the hopes of recreating one of our favorite Whole Foods' prepared meals: spicy shrimp inari. Have you guys ever picked it up? We eat it all the time and can't understand why the amazing spicy shimp & inari combo seems to be virtually unheard of outside of Whole Foods.

Whole Foods' version:
Our version:

Despite being our inspiration, we couldn't do our ingredierts-gathering at Whole Foods. We had to travel to the west side to the amazing Nijiya Market, a great organic, Japanese grocery store where you can find stuff like this:
What's that second bottle on the left side? We aren't sure. Oddly enough, the Nijiya employees weren't entirely sure either, but we were looking for a liquid form of dashi and are pretty sure that this mysterious bottle contains a comparable substance called dashinomoto.

Speaking of things I think I figured out during this whole process:
1. Inari is made of fried tofu pockets.
2. Fried tofu pockets are called aburage.
3. Aburage comes either canned or frozen.

We bought both versions. Below is the frozen one:
The frozen aburage is definitely visually more appetizing than its canned counterpart. And they just call for one extra step--dousing them with boiling water and then slicing them in half to get the pouches. With the canned version, you just pull them out and they are ready to go.
Doesn't look so good, right?
I kept trying to read the directions on the can of aburage, but my eye kept wandering Vivianne-ward.
I'd never made sushi rice before. It wasn't so bad except that I forgot that we were doubling the recipe and so we had to make two batches and both batches stuck to the bottom of the pan in a major way. Anyone know how to avoid this? Was it on too high of heat?
Here at bon appetempt, we like to follow recipes, but like we said, this spicy shrimp inari is elusive. We couldn't really find a recipe for it and so ended up having to wing it. One of the inari recipes we looked at called for cooking the aburage in a saucepan filled with many of those strange ingredierts from Nijiya Market. It looked something like this:

The spicy in spicy shrimp inari comes in with a spicy sauce on top of the shrimp. We're pretty sure that Whole Foods simply mixes Sriracha and mayonnaise, but guess what? We didn't have Sriracha on hand. (I know, WTF-situation.) We thought we did. (We are becoming overconfident in the condiments we think we have on hand.) We did have sambal oelek and mayonnaise, however, and after some experimenting came up with a pretty decent, if not super spicy alternative. (See recipe at end of post.)

Shrimp. Required ingrediert.

Once the tofu was finished, we let it cool and then squeezed out the excess sauce with the help of a small lemur that inexplicably appeared mid-attempt. Though not in focus, the little guy is pictured below.

Aburage is kind of like the Japanese version of the pita pocket. Once cooked, we stuffed each pouch with the rice mixture. At this point we had achieved inari but what happens next is what takes it to the next level and separates this inari from the standard inari available at every sushi restaurant.

Our patent-pending four-step spicy shrimp inari process:

Bon Appetempt, your pictures look stunning, but how did it taste, you ask?

It was great. Very similar to the original, but a little saltier. Usually, I dip the little guys in soy sauce, but our version definitely didn't need any more of that. We're pretty sure that Whole Foods uses the canned aburage and simply takes the pockets out of the can and stuffs them with sushi rice, skipping over the aburage simmering in the dashi/soy sauce/mirin/sugar potion. Either that or we used too much dashinomoto and not enough sugar. Or we should never have used the dashinomoto in the first place.

Our spicy sauce, on the other hand, was great. Much spicier than the Whole Foods one, but we liked it even more for that.

Oh and by the way, while we were at Nijiya market, we picked up some Kasugai gummy's. Whoever is in charge of translating their copy is a genius.

INARI RECIPE via HUB-UK (We didn't use the carrot)

2 cups prepared sushi rice
3 Tbs. Mirin
3 Tbs. Sugar
4 Tbs. Soy sauce
1-1/4 cup Dashi
1/4 cup Shredded par-boiled carrot
4 Deep-fried tofu cakes (aburage)*
8 Canned tofu pouches

Note: Aburage can be bought canned or frozen at many Asian food markets. The canned variety are already seasoned and sliced; if using these, plan on three or four pouches per person.

Bring the prepared sushi rice to room temperature.
(If using canned aburage, skip this next step) Pour boiling water over the deep-fried tofu cakes to remove oil. Cool, then slice each tofu cake in half lengthwise to make eight tofu pouches.

In a small saucepan, combine the mirin, sugar, soy sauce and dashi together. Simmer over low heat until hot. Drain gourd strips, then add the gourd strips and tofu pouches into the stock. Heat to boil. Cover, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Squeeze the tofu pouches and gourd strips dry. Set aside.

Mix the shredded carrot with the sushi rice.

Moisten hands, then pick up enough rice to make a small, oval-shaped ball. Open a tofu pouch; gently slide the rice ball into the pouch. Fold the sides in and top flap over the rice to close pouch. Repeat with remaining rice and tofu pouches.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sambal oelek
1/2 teaspoon mirin
1 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Mix it all together. Enjoy.


Mary Anne said...

wow, you guys are becoming geniuses! yours was gorgeous! i want to try it.

and what is sambal oelek??

Amelia Morris said...

Hi Mary Anne! sambal oelek is this condiment/ingrediert made of (i'm pretty sure) straight peppers. it's superrrrr spicy and can be found most likely in the Asian section of your local grocery store. :)

Nicole said...


George Gaston said...

I'd give you guys a perfect score, because it is hard to tell which is which. And I congratulate you for your tenacity rounding up all the ingredients... but I guess that was part of the fun.

Watch Out Whole Foods... there's a new culinary wonder in your neighborhood!

Heather Taylor said...

i want to go to there. NOW!!!!

corinne said...

This etempt's gonna get a Pushcart.

Elise R. said...

I'm totally going to make your spicy mayo. Why isn't this the most popular sushi ever?

Jessica said...

Spicy Shimp Inari is blowing my mind. Why do you guys call indredients ingredIERTS???

Mark said...

So delectable and tantalizing is this sumptuous velvet offering that it inspires soft sighs from a coy gentleman.

Marsha said...

That is intimidating. Too many ingredierts.

sarahwl said...

my mouth is watering! i get these spicy shrimp inaris (inar-eye?) from the little sushi lady underground at 5th and flower downtown. sounds like i'm making this up i know, but it's true. anyway, i never thought of attempting to make them myself, way to go! maybe i'll have a go at it.

Courtney said...

your version looks better than the WF version! nice job.

Neal said...

god, the vivianne looks so good.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I'm eating spicy shrimp inari right now, but I got it at Ralphs. Always stop for some at least once a week.

SushiTail said...

I like your version so much better than Whole Foods.

erisgrrrl said...

When you use canned inari skins you should line them in a colander and pour boiling (or at least REALLY hot) water over them. It helps get off all that sugary-oily syrup gunk that they're soaking in! While it's delicious, it throws off the balance of flavors (and makes for some mighty messy hands!) It will also help make them easier to open.

I was planning to make inari today and now I'm mad that I can't have THIS inari! Great detective work!

Amelia Morris said...

thanks for the tip, erisgrrl! I still have a can of these and have been thinking of making them again.

Edna Lewis said...

erisgrrrl beat me to it. The canned inari are already seasoned so you don't need to simmer them. But rinsing them does remove some of the syrup -- even though the sweetness counteracts the tartness of the vinegar in the rice.

I often stir in some veggies (carrots, peas) with the rice for lunch. The inari can be packed and frozen; thawed in the fridge or a lunch box. I also keep a bottle of homemade sushi vinegar in the fridge.

I will be trying the spicy shrimp inari soon. Thanks.

Amelia Morris said...

thanks, Edna. good to know!

xxgurlyxx said...

I make the sushi at my local Whole Foods, and yes, I haven't seen this anywhere else either. I was kind of surprised to find this at the store; it's definitely not traditional. Inarizushi is usually just filled with sushi rice, and maybe some sesame seeds on top or some furikake.
Wow, your Whole Foods is kind of fancy! We only make the smaller inari plates--the ones with three pieces.

Sara said...

i wanna try this

(yeah, looking through the archives)

Anonymous said...

haha i found those lady flavored candies too when i was in an asian market.

Anonymous said...

Jesus, buy a rice cooker. Here, this one is good, it will be there in 2 days.