In Japan, many people eat a huge sushi roll on February 3rd, a holiday known as setsubun. The name of this huge sushi roll is Ehomaki, and is perfect for many other occasions throughout the year as well. In fact, as a traditional Japanese food recipe for sushi that can be done right at home in your own kitchen, ehomaki is a simple and delicious sushi item to practice with. The result is a flavorful maki roll that wins you instant culinary accolades among friends and family.
What Is Setsubun?
Traditionally celebrated on the day before spring officially starts — which in Japan is a bit earlier than in the West — Setsubun is a popular festival with ancient roots that go all the way back to China. As the kickoff for the massive Spring Festival, or Haru Matsuri in Japanese, Setsubun is celebrated in some unique ways in Japanese culture and traditions. On Setsubun, people gather together with their families and throw roasted soybeans, called fuku mame, both out the front door and at members of their family that are dressed up as demons. This ritual, mamemaki, goes all the way back to the Muromachi Period. People believe that this ritual would get rid of the evil spirits and bring good fortune to the house. It’s much like a spiritual spring cleaning!
What Is Ehomaki?
Ehomaki is a type of futo-maki (thick sushi roll) for special occasions in traditional Japanese food culture. A typical ehomaki diameter is about 2-2.5 inches, and its length is about 8 inches. Eho literally translates to “good fortune,” so it’s a “good fortune” roll. There’s also a specific way to eat it in the evening before the first day of spring.
First, you can’t cut ehomakis into bite-size pieces the way maki rolls usually are. Also, you must eat the whole roll in one go in order not to “cut” or break the luck. In addition to that, you would need to eat the roll in complete silence while facing the good fortune direction (eho) for that particular year. Eho changes every year and it’s according to the Chinese Lunar calendar.
What’s in Ehomaki?
There are actually seven gods of good fortune in Japanese culture and traditions. Thus, a proper ehomaki roll includes seven different ingredients that represent and appease each one of these deities. Typical ingredients include shiitake mushrooms, Japanese rolled omelet (tamagoyaki), eel, kanpyo (dried gourd), sakura denbu (pink and sweet fish powder), and many more. In this recipe, we are sticking with more standard and easy-to-find ingredients like tuna and avocado. But feel free to go as traditional as you want!
About Sushi-Grade Tuna
Just because tuna is one of the most common ingredients in sushi, it doesn’t mean that any tuna will do. Because you are eating tuna raw, it is always advisable to get sushi-grade tuna from a good seafood counter. In Japan, there are actually three different kinds of tuna that are usually used for sushi dishes like this ehomaki roll. While the Akami type (red meaty tuna) is the most common one, trying more fatty tuna results in a true treat for the senses.
About Shiitake Mushrooms
Traditional Japanese food culture regularly use many different mushrooms , but none are as popular as the shiitake. You can use these meaty mushrooms in everything from soups to salads. Nowadays, you also see shiitake in sushi rolls as part of a healthy Japanese recipe that appeals to vegetarians. Much more than just a meat substitute, shiitake mushrooms have been found to contain a large amount of both nutritional and medicinal properties. In fact, scientific studies found that shiitakes help do everything from lower cholesterol to kill cancer cells. We should definitely all be eating more shiitakes! In this recipe, we are going to saute the shiitake mushrooms in a mix of traditional Japanese ingredients that will add both sweetness and rich umami flavor to them.
This recipe rolls avocado, tuna, cucumber, and sweet shiitake mushrooms instead of the more traditional ingredients mentioned above. Unfortunately, those traditional ingredients are simply hard to find in the U.S. and Europe.
We’re also making it slightly thinner so it’s easier to eat! If you want, don’t cut the nori seaweed in half when rolling. That way, you can use more per roll and make a thicker roll just like the traditional ehomaki.
Tuna and Avocado Sushi Roll (Ehomaki)
- 3.5 oz Tuna (Sashimi Grade) *1
- ½ Avocado
- ½ Cucumber
- 2 Nori Seaweed
- 2 portion Sushi Rice *2
- 4 tsp Ground Sesame Seeds
- Wasabi, for eating
- Soy Sauce, for eating
- Mix seasoning ingredients in a small container.
- Cut the tuna vertically into thin strips. Place them in the seasoning for 10 minutes to marinate.
- Slice the avocado. Julienne cucumber. Thinly slice shiitake mushrooms.
- In a small pot, mix all of the sweet shiitake ingredients. Cook over medium heat until most of the liquid evaporates.
- Mix the sushi rice and ground sesame seeds together.
- Cut the nori seaweed in half.
- Spread out makisu (bamboo mat) and place sushi nori on top.
- Spread ¼ of the rice on top. Make sure to leave about ¼ inch space on the top side of the nori.
- Add ¼ portions of the avocado, cucumber, sweet shiitake, and tuna in the center.
Roll the sushi and leave until the rice and seaweed stick together.
Eat with soy sauce and wasabi if preferred.