- Prep time 25 minutes
- Cook time 20 minutes
- makes about 16
I firmly believe some of the best food comes from a can. Case in point: yubuchobap, the Korean form of Japanese inari sushi. In this iconic dish, seasoned sticky rice is packed into marinated fried bean curd (tofu), forming pillow-like pockets of savory-sweet goodness that are delicious eaten on their own or alongside classic picnic fare like kimbap.
A resourceful tip I picked up from my mom is using the leftover marinade from the bottom of the can—which contains ingredients like soy sauce, cooking wine, and sugar—as built-in seasoning for the rice, and then supplementing it with rice vinegar, mirin, and salt to taste. After you season the rice, the sky’s the limit: Mix in thinly sliced nori strips, diced scallions, or toasted sesame seeds before filling the pockets. Or ditch the rice altogether and opt for soba noodles instead. While some recipes call for adding diced, sautéed vegetables to the rice, I love using raw, finely shredded veggies like carrots for a fresh contrast against the tangy tofu.
You can find fried bean curd at Asian grocery stores in cans or refrigerated packages, though I’m partial to the canned variety, which can be stored for a while in the pantry. Whether you make yubuchobap as a fun picnic side or a last-minute lazy dinner, these salty-sweet-vinegary rice pockets couldn’t be simpler to throw together or more satisfying to eat—all you need is enough people to share them with.
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(10-ounce) can seasoned fried bean curd (like Shirakiku brand)
warm short- or medium-grain white rice
Salt, to taste
Optional mix-ins: finely shredded carrots, thinly sliced nori strips, thinly sliced scallions, toasted sesame seeds, etc.
Optional garnishes: furikake, thinly sliced scallions
- Use a fork to remove the bean curd from the can and place on a large plate or tray. Reserve the marinade—we’re using it in a minute.
- Transfer the rice to a large bowl and gently mix in the rice vinegar, mirin, and reserved marinade until combined. Taste and season the rice with salt, as desired.
- Add any optional mix-ins to the rice. If you want to make different flavors, divide the rice into smaller bowls and add your choice of mix-ins.
- Working with one bean curd piece at a time, gently open the pocket and fill it to the brim with about ¼ cup of prepared rice. (It’s helpful to carefully spoon the rice in, then use your hand to pack the rice into the pocket. Take care not to overfill, which would tear the bean curd.)
- Top the rice with any garnishes, if desired, and serve immediately. Yubuchobap are best enjoyed the day they’re made (the rice will dry out after the first day).