Lower-calorie higher fibre inarizushi with hijiki


Inarizushi are excellent for bento, but they can be a bit high in calories since they are stuffed with sushi rice. The original version with a 100% rice filling has about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of rice per bag, which makes each inarizushi about 110 to 130 calories. On the other hand these inarizushi are about 80 to 100 calories per piece. The secret is in the filling.


I’ve mixed about 1/4 cup of stewed hijiki seaweed with carrots and shiitake mushrooms to every cup of sushi rice. The recipe for stewed hijiki is here - I just added a couple of raw shiitake mushrooms to it, omitted the fried tofu, and chopped up the carrots quite finely. I also used brown rice instead of white, for even more fibre and nutrition. An all-inarizushi bento with extra ingredients in the filling is, in fact, a pretty nutritionally complete vegan meal.


Hijiki and shiitake have almost no calories and are high in fibre and various minerals (more about hijiki), and carrots don’t have a lot of calories either, so adding them to the rice mixture is a good thing all around. Try mixing other things into the rice stuffing too!

Freezing and defrosting inarizushi

Inarizushi freezes very well, because the moist tofu skin protects the rice inside. Since I’ve stocked up on some Lock & Lock boxes, I’ve made batches of inarizushi and frozen them 3 or 4 at a time in 360ml boxes.

I’ve tried defrosting them in three ways:

  • Defrost the inarizushi all the way in the microwave in the morning, and cool. This method makes for the most moist, tastiest inarizushi.
  • Put them in the refrigerator the night before, and bring the halfway defrosted box for lunch. The inarizushi are defrosted all the way by lunchtime, though rather chilly inside.
  • Bring the frozen inarizushi straight from the freezer. The inarizushi can be very cold or still a bit frozen on the inside. If you intend to snack on the inarizushi later on in the day (e.g. to bring along to the gym after work), taking frozen ones may be a good idea.

Stocking stewed hijiki in the freezer too

Stewed hijiki keeps for about a week in the refrigerator, and also freezes very well. You can freeze it in small portions and then just pop a portion in a bento as a side dish, or mix it into rice, and so on. You can also mix some into a basic tamagoyaki to add texture, fibre and flavor. Here I used about 1/2 tablespoon for a 1 egg tamagoyaki.


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Wow, so delicious.

These look sooo yummy, my stomach is grumbling at the second picture! I love inarizushi, I’m definately going to make these. :)

inari twins

I’ve been making a kombu version of your hijiki okazu for a while (I got the idea from you but I like kombu better than hijiki) and it’s great. Last night I decided to try to use up the last of my inari skins and the last of my kombu mix for this week. I posted to my blog about it and then I came here to link to your stewed hijiki recipe in case anyone else wants to try it…and that’s when I saw you and I made the same exact thing! How funny. :)

They were ok…much better than regular inari in my opinion. I don’t actually like inarizushi all that much but my husband does, and I like the skins in my udon.

great tips!

wow! 2 eye-opening tips that I just never even thought of. 1. adding stuff to the rice in my inarzushi. Your combo looks awesome, and I’ll certainly try it. It also makes me realize that the possibilities for filling these little bags of goodness are endless! 2. I didn’t know they froze so well! That is GREAT to knoe. Thanks!!

Any other filling suggestions?


Are there any other vegetable fillings that you can recommend to cut the calorie count in a similar way? I am rather new to Japanese cuisine and was kind of turned off from kombu after a bad experience with some instant Kombu Dashi granules. I guess I haven’t yet developed a taste for seaweed - other than nori of course.




Only one other blog has been so complete in freezing inari sushi, thanks so very much for your wonderful ideas and tips; both on here and JustHungry! :D

Keep up the good work! ^_^


When you freeze them in the containers do you cover them with cling film as well? Or just dump into the container and to the freezer? Thanks in advance! :-D

I mix my inari with steamed

I mix my inari with steamed brown rice and lots of veggies. This adds a lot more fiber and lowers the calories- they also help me regulate my hypoglycemia

Doesn't hijiki exceed

Doesn't hijiki exceed acceptable levels of bioavailable arsenic? I'd be wary of eating it, personally. Even if it's not enough to cause immediate symptoms, arsenic is still carcinogenic.

I don't worry

The hijiki-arsenic issue is addressed in some detail in this post about Japanese seaweed products. It should be noted that the initial tests on hijiki which lead to those warnings in the UK among other places was based on testing the dried, un-soaked hijiki - and you never eat hijiki that way. Soaking reduces the amount of trace arsenic by 1/7th; rinsing and cooking it in liquid further reduces it. The report here (Japanese) by the Tokyo Health and Welfare Department states that as long as a person weighing 50kg does not eat more than 5 servings of hijiki of 5g dry weight per serving (which swells up to a lot more than that when soaked) that it is perfectly safe, even for pregnant women.

In a nutshell, when it's prepared in traditional ways (soaked, rinsed then stewed, and more often than not eaten with vegetables) I don't believe there is much to worry about. Of course YMMV. To me the many benefits of hijiki and other seaweed far outweigh the drawbacks. If I were the UK government, I'd be issuing dire health warning about things like blood pudding, but that wouldn't be politically popular! Some weird foreign seaweed is a much easier target. (And I do like blood pudding, once in a great while.)


Re: I don't worry

Thanks, I really appreciate the prompt response. That actually clears up my qualms about hijiki. I've tried it before and it was tasty, but I was put off by the warnings from the UK and Canada about it.

Re: Lower-calorie higher fibre inarizushi with hijiki

Whats it Wrapped In?

This will become a staple

I was a bit dubious when I started soaking the hijiki. The smell was so seaweedy that I wasn't sure that I would like it. But when I tried my first inarizushi, it was delicious. The strong smell was gone, and the hijiki gave a nice bite to the sushi. It was so good that I am taking containers of the inarizushi and some leftover stewed hijiki to my Nisei mother tomorrow. Now that will be the real test!

Maki, are there different kinds of hijiki? I bought something called Ito Hijiki (Miyako brand) and when it rehydrated, some of the strands grew to about 4 inches in length. Before mixing with the rice I chopped everything down to the size of rice kernal.

I also found the stewed hijiki so flavorful that I used plain rice rather than vinergared sushi rice.

And thanks for the freezing tips.


There are different forms of hijiki, though all from the same plant. The two main types sold are regular, long hijiki, and mehijiki (pronounced meh-hijiki), which are basically hijiki shoots. You can use either one, depending on whether you want long or little bits of hijiki. I usually like to use mehijiki.

Nisei Mom Follow-up

My Nisei mom liked the inarizushi with hijiki -- but agreed with Maki. While the unseasoned rice was good, she said that something was missing. It needed the tang of sushi rice.

And thanks, Maki, for explaining the difference in hijiki. Those of us in California have such easy access to Asian products that the variety in types and brands can be overwhelming. Not complaining, just confused.

I'm craving your version!

I've heard people say that the original rice only version is the most authentic, but I love the sound of your version here, you've made it healthier and more colorful! I'm absolutely trying this.

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