Categories: Beersushi

Futomaki: Unraveling a Traditional Sushi Roll

While many types of sushi rolls can be found across the United States, few are as well recognized as the futomaki roll. Originated in the Kansai region of the southern part of the main island of Honshu in Japan, where history-rich Kyoto and Osaka are located. This large makizushi typically features four or more ingredients that are carefully chosen to balance each other with every bite. It is a particularly popular treat during the celebration of Setsubun in Japan just before the beginning of spring.

What Is Futomaki?

Futomaki is a large, thick sushi roll that usually contains anywhere from four to 10 or more different ingredients. Because it is a popular food during holidays and special events in Japan, each family may have different favorite ingredients they like to include. Many types of futomaki sushi contain the following:

  • Unagi or anago (freshwater or saltwater eel)
  • Kanpyo (gourd strips)
  • Spinach or mitsuba
  • Sakura denbu (codfish flakes)
  • Tamagoyaki (rolled omelette)
  • Cucumber
  • Kamaboko (imitation crab)
  • Pickled ginger
  • Carrots
  • Sashimi (tuna or salmon)
  • Shiso leaves
  • Koya dofu (freeze-dried tofu)

When selecting the ingredients to include, a sushi chef carefully considers the unique flavor each ingredient adds to the entire roll. The goal is to choose flavors that balance each other and avoid anything that might overpower the addition of the other ingredients. The ingredients are placed on a bed of sushi rice and rolled in a sheet of nori or dried seaweed.

Characteristics of a Roll

While the futomaki roll may sound similar to other types of makizushi, it has distinct characteristics that set it apart. The name literally means “fat roll,” and it is aptly called such. This roll can range from 1.5 to 2.5 inches in diameter, making it quite a feat to fit in the mouth in a single bite.

At many restaurants, futomaki sushi is presented in slices, similar to other rolls. However, during Setsubun in Japan – a time when families throw beans out their doors, ask demons to leave and good fortune to enter – it is common to find people eating an entire uncut roll. When eaten uncut during Setsubun while facing the lucky direction for the year (which is determined by the zodiac), its name changes to eho-maki (lucky direction roll).

How To Eat Futomaki

With most types of sushi, each slice is designed to be eaten in a single bite. Each bite is meant to be chewed slowly, and in many cases, to enjoy the full experience of the sushi and its ingredients, it is a good idea to eat it without dipping it in soy sauce. However, futomaki is sometimes too large to consume in a single bite, so do not fret if it takes two or three bites to finish.

It is a good idea to chew slowly when eating a futomaki roll to enjoy the flavors thoroughly. This is largely due to the number of ingredients. With so many different pieces coming together to create the roll, chewing slowly aids in appreciating the careful balance of taste that each ingredient offers. It is also a great compliment to the sushi chef to eat slowly and fully enjoy the roll’s flavors, which the chef has very carefully chosen.

The Finest Sushi in Colorado

While there are many options available and it is possible to make a roll at home, one of the best places to try a genuine futomaki sushi roll in Colorado is at Matsuhisa. Our selection of signature dishes comes from classically trained chefs who bring an authentic style and flavor to every bite. Visit us today and discover for yourself the rich and delicious taste of futomaki and our many other signature sushi rolls and dishes.

Getty Images / robertprzybysz


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