Made with egg and hanpen (fish cake), this sweet rolled omelette (Datemaki) is a delicious complement to your Osechi Ryori menu. Baked in the oven and rolled into a cylinder, this homemade Datemaki is simple enough to make from scratch for the festive season.
Datemaki (伊達巻) is a sweet rolled omelette and a popular Japanese New Year’s foods (osechi ryori, 御節料理), typically served in a lacquered jubako (special square boxes similar to lunch box). This dish is by far my favorite dish among the new year foods and I look forward to eating it every year.
Although pre-made datemaki is readily available during this time of the year in Japanese supermarkets, it is easy to make and I hope you try making this dish from scratch.
Watch How to Make Datemaki (Sweet Rolled Omelette)
Sweet rolled omelette made of egg and hanpen, typically served as part of osechi ryori during Japanese New Years celebration.
Ingredients for Datemaki
Datemaki is similar to tamagoyaki. The main ingredients are eggs and sweet seasonings like mirin, honey and soy sauce, but the big difference is that datemaki includes a square white fish cake called hanpen. (はんぺん).
Hanpen is made from grated Japanese yam (yamaimo) and surimi (Alaska Pollock), salt, and kombu dashi and it adds a unique texture to the egg omelette, like a soft fish cake. If you cannot find hanpen, you can substitute it with pureed white fish, scallop, or shrimp.
Although many datemaki recipes require dashi, I find it not necessary as hanpen is made of kombu dashi and it already adds a nice flavor to the omelette. Of course, you can always add dashi if you like.
After blending all the ingredients for the egg mixture, it is then baked until firm and nicely brown on the outside.
Rolling the Omelette in a Bamboo Mat
You have probably seen or used Makisu (巻き簀), a bamboo mat, to roll sushi or stabilize the shape of Tamagoyaki. To make Datemaki for the New Year, this special bamboo mat called Onisudare (鬼簾, 鬼すだれ) is used as the deep notches leave zigzag marks on surfaces for a decorative purpose.
If you don’t have Onisudare, you can use a regular bamboo mat to make Datemaki and it will still look pretty (see right picture below).
Spending New Year’s Day with Family
I really miss my family in Japan as the year is close to the end and families are getting together to celebrate the New Year together.
When I was small, my family used to spend the winter break in my grandparents’ home in Osaka so that we can celebrate New Year’s Day with all the family members. Grandma, aunties, my mom, and I – all the women in the family – would start preparing the new year foods a few days prior to New Year Day. While we spend most of the days in the kitchen, men in the family do the cleaning inside and outside of the house and help run errands for any last-minute shopping.
New Year’s celebration was my favorite holiday growing up. It’s the biggest celebration in Japan and I enjoyed family time and the feasting as well as receiving otoshidama (monetary gift) from all the adult family members and playing new year’s games. It’s one Japanese holiday that I wish to be in Japan to celebrate.
Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.
Datemaki (Sweet Rolled Omelette)
- 1 package hanpen (fish cake) (110-130 g; You can find hanpen in the refrigerated or frozen section of a Japanese grocery store. If you cannot find it, substitute with pureed white fish (skinless/boneless), scallop, or shrimp.)
- 4 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell)
- Gather all the ingredients. You will also need parchment paper and a bamboo sushi mat. In Japan, we use a special bamboo mat with thicker bamboo strips called Oni-Sudare, which gives
big ridges/indentations to datemaki.
- Preheat oven to 400 ºF (200 ºC). For a convection oven, reduce cooking temperature by 25ºF (15ºC). Line an 8" x 8" (20 x 20cm) baking dish with parchment paper.
- Cut the hanpen into ½ inch (1.3 cm) cubes and whisk eggs in a small bowl.
- In a blender or food processor, put the hanpen and Seasonings (2 Tbsp mirin, 1 Tbsp sake, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp honey, and ½ tsp soy sauce).
- Add the beaten egg and blend until smooth, about 1 to 1.5 minutes.
- Strain the egg mixture through a fine sieve to a clean bowl.
- Then pour the mixture back into the blender and strain one more time into the bowl. Finally, pour the mixture into the baking dish lined with parchment paper.
- Bake at 400 ºF (200 ºC) for 20 minutes or until slightly brown on top. If the top is not golden brown, switch to a broiler and broil for 2 minutes or until the surface is a golden brown color. The center of the omelette will rise a little bit as the top gets brown. It will shrink as it cools, so
- Remove the baking dish from the oven and let omelette deflate and cool to handle, just for 1-2 minutes (DO NOT LEAVE IT more than that). We will need to roll the omelette while it’s hot.
- Transfer the omelette from the baking dish to a working surface by lifting the parchment paper. Then place the bamboo mat over the omelette, the flat bamboo side facing up.
- Carefully flip the omelette and remove the parchment paper.
- Carefully score the omelette ⅛ inch (3 mm) deep every ½ inch (1.3 cm). The knife should be parallel to the bamboo sushi mat direction. This incision will help the omelette roll up without breaking/cracking.
- Roll the omelette into a tight cylinder.
- Secure the bamboo mat roll with rubber bands and wrap it with plastic wrap. Let cool completely for 2-3 hours.
To Serve and Store
- Carefully remove the Datemaki from the bamboo mat. Cut into 12 equal slices, about ¾ inch wide pieces. Serve at room temperature.
- You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Dec 26, 2013. The pictures have been updated in December 2019.