Futomaki 太巻き (Maki Sushi)

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  • Learn how to make Futomaki or Maki Sushi, a traditional thick and fat sushi roll filled with colorful ingredients. You can make this sushi roll ahead of time and bring to festivals, potlucks or picnics.

    Futomaki (Maki Sushi) on a long white plate.

    When I ask people what’s their favorite sushi, the answers I often get are some types of sushi rolls, like Dragon Roll, California Roll, or Spicy Tuna Roll.

    In Japan, sushi usually implies traditional style “nigiri sushi”, which consists of raw fish on top of the rice pillow. However, when we say sushi roll, it’s typically referring to Futomaki (太巻き) – a thick and fat sushi roll with colorful fillings.

    Futomaki (Maki Sushi) on a long white plate.

    What is Futomaki (Maki Sushi)?

    Futomaki (太巻き) is the most classic sushi roll in Japan. Therefore, when you say Maki Sushi* (巻き寿司) or sushi roll, it implies Futomaki.

    Here are some of the unique characteristics of Futomaki:

    • The diameter is about 2 to 2.5 inches (5-6 cm) thick.
    • It incorporates a mix of fresh and dried ingredients common in the Japanese pantry.
    • The typical filling consists of a variety of vegetables, and sometimes with the addition of cooked fish like unagi (freshwater eel) or anago (saltwater eel).
    • It can be prepared ahead of time.

    With its attractive look, Futomaki is a popular sushi roll to make for festivity events, holidays, potluck, or bento.

    *Note: The word “Maki Sushi” is often used in the Osaka area. In the Tokyo area, sushi roll is called Nori Maki (海苔巻き). It is then further divided into Futomaki (太巻き), Chumaki (中巻き), Hosomaki (細巻き) based on the size of the rolls.

    Futomaki (Maki Sushi) on a long white plate.

    What’s Inside Futomaki (Maki Sushi)

    Each family chooses different fillings for futomaki. Some people use 5 ingredients and some include more than 10.  It really depends on the family. And that is what makes Futomaki such fun sushi to share!

    The most common ingredients include cucumber, seasoned kanpyo (gourd strips), shiitake mushrooms, and tamagoyaki (Japanese rolled omelette).

    In my rolls, I include the following 7 ingredients:

    1. Tamagoyaki / Dashimaki Tamago
    2. Simmered Kanpyo (gourd strips)
    3. Simmered Shiitake Mushrooms
    4. Mitsuba or Spinach
    5. Cucumber
    6. Cooked unagi (freshwater eel) or anago (saltwater eel)
    7. Sakura Denbu (Seasoned Codfish Flakes)

    Other ingredients include kamaboko fish cakes (or imitation crab), koyadofu (freeze-dry tofu), shiso leaves, pickled ginger, carrots, tuna (sashimi), and salmon (sashimi).

    I understand some of these ingredients are hard to find in your local Asian grocery stores. You will have better luck finding the products in Japanese grocery stores.

    But remember, you can make futomaki with anything that you really like! Just keep in mind that the flavors should balance each other, and not have any single ingredient overpowering the rest.

    Ehomaki served on a white plate.

    Interesting Fact: Maki Sushi Turns into “Ehomaki” on February 3

    The Japanese call this sushi roll futomaki all year round, except for one day out of the whole year.

    On February 3rd, the day of Setsubun (節分, the day before the beginning of spring in Japan), the same sushi roll is called ehō-maki (恵方巻).

    What is Ehomaki?

    Ehō-maki (恵方巻) is eaten uncut, like a burrito, and you would eat it while facing the lucky direction (the eho).  This lucky direction changes every year depending on the zodiac symbol. For 2020, the lucky direction is West-southwest.

    On the evening of Setsubun, we have a custom of throwing roasted soybeans around the house, and outside from the window while shouting “Oni wa soto!  Fuku wa uchi!” (“Devils out, happiness in”).

    Roasted soybeans, Okame & Oni

    These beans are called Fuku Mame (fortune beans) and the bean-throwing ceremony is called Mame Maki.  Afterward, everyone eats the same number of beans as their own age, wishing to be free of sickness during that year.

    If you are interested in learning about Setubun, check out Setsubun: The Japanese Bean Throwing Festival.

    Setsubun | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
    Oniwa soto, Fuku wa uchi! 鬼は外、福は内!(Okame & Oni)

    Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, click here.

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    4.75 from 4 votes
    Futomaki (Thick Sushi Roll 太巻き) | Easy Japanese Recipes at JustOneCookbook.com
    Futomaki (Maki Sushi / Ehomaki)
    Prep Time
    2 hrs
    Cook Time
    45 mins
    Total Time
    2 hrs 45 mins
     

    Learn how to make Futomaki, a traditional thick sushi roll typically filled with vegetables. You can easily prepare it ahead of time. It makes a great sushi roll to bring to festivals, potlucks or picnic.

    Course: Main Course, Side Dish
    Cuisine: Japanese
    Keyword: ehomaki, makizushi, sushi roll
    Servings: 4 sushi rolls
    Author: Nami
    Ingredients
    Sushi Rice:
    Sushi Vinegar:
    • cup rice vinegar (80 ml)
    • 3 Tbsp sugar
    • tsp kosher/sea salt (use half for table salt)
    Seasoned Shiitake & Kanpyo (gourd strips):
    Vinegar Water for Dipping Hands (Tezu):
    Instructions
    Shiitake and Kanpyo
    1. In a bowl (or a measuring cup), put 8 dried shiitake mushrooms and pour 1 cup water to cover the mushrooms. Place a smaller bowl on top so that mushrooms will stay submerged. Soak for 15 minutes.

      Futomaki 1
    2. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Quickly rinse the kanpyo in running water and drain. Rub kanpyo with 1 tsp. salt. Rinse and drain well.

      Futomaki 2
    3. When the water is boiling cook kanpyo for 3 minutes. Transfer to iced water to stop the cooking process and squeeze water out.

      Futomaki 3
    4. When the shiitake mushrooms are soft and tender, cut off and discard the stem. Strain the shiitake liquid through a fine sieve to get rid of small unwanted bits.
      Futomaki 4
    5. If the reserved shiitake liquid is not 1 cup, add water till you have 1 cup.
      Futomaki 5
    6. In a medium saucepan, put the kanpyo and sliced mushrooms. Add 1 cup of reserved shiitake liquid into the saucepan.
      Futomaki 6
    7. Add 1 Tbsp. sugar, 1 Tbsp. mirin, and 1 Tbsp. soy sauce to the saucepan.
      Futomaki 7
    8. Bring it to boil and once boiling, lower the heat to medium and cook until most of liquid is gone, about 20-30 minutes.
      Futomaki 8
    9. Cut the shiitake mushrooms to very thin slices and squeeze the water out.
      Futomaki 9
    10. Squeeze the water out from kanpyo and cut into 8 inches (20 cm) length, which is about the same size as nori sheet.

      Futomaki 10
    11. When shiitake and kanpyo have cooled, keep in the fridge till the next day.
      Futomaki 11
    Tamagoyaki (Dashimaki Tamago)
    1. Make 1 tamagoyaki or dashimaki tamago ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator to save time. Recipe here.
      Futomaki 12
    2. Cut tamagoyaki into long strips store in the fridge till ready to use.
      Futomaki 13
    Sushi Rice
    1. First, make sushi rice (recipe here). Sushi rice is steamed rice that is seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and salt. For 4 sushi rolls, you will need 3 rice cooker cups (1 cup = 180 ml) uncooked rice. Sushi rice should be similar to body temperature when you roll sushi.

      Futomaki 27
    Unagi (eel)
    1. Unagi is typically already cooked/broiled when you purchase it. All you need to do is reheat in the oven. Set your oven to broil (high – 550F/290C) and preheat for 3 minutes. Line the baking sheet with aluminum foil. Spray oil on the aluminum foil and place the unagi on top. Put the baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven and broil for 5-7 minutes (no need to flip). Cut into 4 long strips.

      Futomaki 14
    Mitsuba or Spinach
    1. Tie the stems with cooking twine to keep them from being untied while cooking. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add 1 tsp. salt and blanch mitsuba or spinach just enough to tender. Do not overcook.
      Futomaki 15
    2. Soak the blanched mitsuba in iced water and squeeze the water out. Set aside.
      Futomaki 16
    Cucumber
    1. Cut off the end and cut into quarter length-wise and remove the seeds. Set aside.
      Futomaki 17
    Sakura Denbu (seasoned cod fish flakes)
    1. Open the package and put it in a small bowl. Set aside.
      Futomaki 18
    Assemble Futomaki
    1. Gather all the ingredients.  Prepare Tezu (vinegar water for dipping hands) by combining ¼ cup water and 2 tsp. rice vinegar.

      Futomaki Ingredients
    2. Place a bamboo sushi mat on the working surface or cutting board. Then place a sheet of nori on the bamboo mat, shiny side down. Divide sushi rice into quarters. Dip your fingers in Tezu, and put ¼ of sushi rice on nori and spread evenly with your fingers. Make sure to wet your fingers with Tezu when you do this. Spread the rice evenly; otherwise, your sushi roll won’t look even when rolled.

      Futomaki 20
    3. Leaving about a ½ inch (1.5 cm) strip along the top of nori farthest away from you. You don’t put the rice till the end because after you roll, the white rice could come out from the seam and it won’t look pretty.
      Futomaki 21
    4. Place the cucumber toward the bottom of nori. Front ingredients will need to go over the other ingredients. Therefore I recommend putting easy-to-hold ingredients toward the front, and put Sakura Denbu and Shiitake toward the top so the pieces won’t fall down when you roll.
      Futomaki 22
    5. From the bottom end (of sushi rice), start rolling nori sheet over the filling tightly and firmly with bamboo mat until the bottom end reaches the end of sushi rice on top. Use your fingers to hold the ingredients when you roll.
      Futomaki 23
    6. Hold the top of the bamboo mat with one hand and hold the rolled bamboo mat with the other hand and pull against each other to tighten the roll. Lift the bamboo mat and continue to roll. Place the bamboo mat over the roll and tightly squeeze. Continue to make the rest of the rolls.

      Futomaki 24
    7. Using a very sharp knife, cut the Futomaki in half first. Every slice or every other slice, wipe the knife with a wet kitchen cloth so that you can cut nicely.

      Futomaki 25
    8. Then cut each half into 3 pieces.
      Futomaki 26
    Recipe Notes

    Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.

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    Editor’s Note: The original post was published on January 30, 2016. The post has been updated in January 2020.

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