By Elena Epstein
For a taste of Japan, we visit Little Tokyo’s Azay for a recipe for futomaki, a type of maki sushi (thick-roll sushi) that is the most classic sushi roll in Japan. Chef Akira Hirose loves it because it is delicious, can travel well, is a great way to use vegetables and is very flexible in terms of what you can put inside. It’s also very filling.
The endless combination of ingredients make it versatile and very presentable once cut and plated. Traditional makes recommend seven fillings because it is believed to be derived from the Seven Deities of Good Fortune.
Japanese people enjoy eating a Futomaki whole on the day before the first day of spring (also known as Setsubun). A person will eat a whole roll in silence while facing a special direction for the most luck.
Tip: Similar to a burrito, there will be a limit to how much/many ingredients you can put inside the roll until it starts to break and lose shape. Adjust accordingly and have fun!
1 piece Nori seaweed (4- by 8-inch triangles)
1 cup short grain rice, cooked
¼ cup sushi rice vinegar
1 egg (cook with ½ tsp sugar and cut)
5 pieces shitake mushroom (simmer and cut)
3 cucumber slices (1/3-inch slices)
0.25 package of Kanpyo gourd strips
2 tbsp Sakura Denbu Seasoned Codfish Flakes
2 pieces Unagi Eel (cooked and sliced) (optional)
5 stems Mitsuba Japanese Parsley (option)
These are typically the ingredients used for futomaki in Japan. If you do not have access to some of ingredients, that is fine. There are many variations of futomaki, and improvising to what meets your palate is encouraged. Make sure all ingredients going inside the roll are long and narrow and can align with the roll.
Preparing the ingredients going inside the roll will take the bulk of the time. There will be instances that you may purchase in which these items are already prepared and will just need to be sliced into 1/3inch strips.
Cook short grain rice. While the rice is still hot, sprinkle the sushi rice vinegar while lightly mixing the rice with a rice paddle and cooling it with a fan.
Beat the eggs and add ½-tsp of sugar. Cook flat like a thin pancake and slice into 1/3-inch strips.
Shitake Mushroom and Kanpyo
Simmer shiitake mushroom and kanpyo in a saucepan with 1 cup of water, 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tbsp mirin rice wine and 1 tbsp soy sauce for 20-30 minutes. Drain and slice into 1/3-inch strips shiitake. Drain kanpyo. Cool.
Slice into 1/3-inch strips.
This one is ready made in the package.
Making the Roll
Gather all ingredients. Place a bamboo sushi mat on a working surface and lightly and evenly spread the sushi rice on the nori seaweed. Leave a ½-inch of seaweed uncovered. This should be on the side furthest from where you are starting to roll the futomaki.
Line up ingredients closely and horizontally across the rice and closest to you. Do not go past half way to the other side. Carefully roll the sushi mat while keeping the ingredients inside when you roll. Make sure it is roll tightly so that it stays together.
Once rolled, feel free to cut and enjoy!