Japanese Recipe: How to Make Eho-Maki for Setsubun
Let's start Spring by attracting fortune eating Eho-maki and throwing dried soybeans!
In Japan, the beginning of February is marked by Setsubun no Hi (節分の日) or Bean-Throwing Festival in English. Setsubun no Hi, also know as is celebrated every year on February 3rd and it’s one of the children’s favorite celebrations. This festival celebrates the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring according to the lunar calendar.
In ancient times it was believed that the ogres, called “oni” in Japanese, appeared in the changing seasons and in order to scare away those ogres, they throw dried soybeans while yelling “Oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi!” which means ‘Demon out, fortune inside’.
You can read more about the Setsubun no Hi in this article:
In this article I would explain how to prepare Eho-Maki (恵方巻き), a typical Setsubun dish that appeared at the end of the 70s in the Kansai region. For those of you who don’t know, Eho-maki is a big maki-sushi, like a giant maki roll that is eaten looking towards the direction ‘Ehô‘ to bring luck during this year. The ‘Eho‘ address isn’t a fixed address, but changes every year and the eho-maki has to be eaten at once, without pausing and without cutting it so that good luck isn’t cut.
Although originally from the Kansai region, around the 1990s the famous convenience store chain seven-eleven start selling them nationwide as a marketing strategy, and the idea quickly spread to other chains and establishments, such as supermarkets and departments. Nowadays it’s common to find ‘Eho-makis‘ all around Tokyo too.
However, last year I tried doing it myself at home with Japanese friends, and it was much more fun! So I wanted to share it with you. Eho-maki is a really easy recipe. It takes some time to get all the ingredients ready, but they are simple things that don’t require great culinary skills. It’s a way to spend some fun time with friends while making cooking and having some drinks!
About the ingredients, there is a diversity of opinions and there are no “fixed” ingredients. Here I will put the ingredients that we use, but if you don’t like any of them, you can change it for something of your preference, like salmon, tuna, etc. The only rule is that there must be seven ingredients, representing the seven gods of Japan’s fortune. Ready? So let’s prepare our own Eho-maki!
- Nori seaweed
- Beef meat
- Shiitake mushroom
- Flavourings: salt, sugar, soy sauce, cooking sake (Japanese rice wine), mirin. *Optional: kimchi
Quantities will depend on the number of people and how many you want to eat.
- Start boiling the rice. While it’s boiling we’ll start doing the other steps (if you have a rice cooker, this step will be easier).
- Make thin omelets with the eggs/ Season the meat to taste and fry/ Batter the shrimp and fry them.
- Cut the vegetables and the crab.
- Once all the ingredients are prepared, you can start making your Eho-maki! Place the nori seaweed on the sushi mat and spread the rice over the entire surface, leaving about 3 cm.
- Place 7 of the ingredients on top of the sushi rice. You can choose the 7 ingredients you like the most.
- While pressing down the ingredients with your fingers, roll up the whole sushi roll. Roll the end of the roll down and press down with both hands on the top of the roller to form the shape of the roll. And is ready to eat!
Did you like it?? As I said, is not a complicate recipe! You can do it with friends or with kids, or even for yourself. In addition, if you want to immerse yourself 100% in Japanese tradition and culture, I recommend you to go to any supermarket and buy dried soybeans. In most places they will give you an oni/ogre mask with your purchase. Usually what they do is that one person (for example, the father of the family) ‘disguises’ himself as an oni and the others throw the dried soybeans at him!
For more interesting events in Japan during February or to learn how to cook more Japanese dishes, check these articles!
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