What’s better than sushi? FAT sushi.
When you picture sushi, you might think of California rolls with the rice on the outside. Other sushi types include nigiri (shaped rice with fish on top) and maki (or roll), but with the rice on the inside.1
Chiba prefecture has its own special type of sushi. One of its local specialties is futomaki (literally ‘fat sushi roll’) traditionally made by northern farmers in Chiba. Makers of futomaki pride themselves on creating intricate designs. We Chiba-kun ambassadors had the chance to experience putting a futomaki roll together without having to prepare the ingredients beforehand.
First some professional futomaki chefs demonstrated how to make delicious rolls of joy.
I chose to do the rose design because I was on crutches and the rose table was the closest to my crippled self. Ingredients of the rose design: egg sheet, pink rice, sliced red pepper, pickled nozowana (a leafy vegetable, you can substitute cucumber or string beans), nori (seaweed), a small and large bamboo mat2
It was actually a lot easier than I expected. The entire rose design is created by just scattering pink rice and red pepper slices onto two egg sheets. Then you layer one inside of the other. That’s it!
The other group made peach blossoms, which was slightly harder. They had to make five rolls of pink and white rice first before rolling it all together with a cheese stick in the middle.
Then the pros showed off their amazing skills and created these beauties right in front of us.
If you’re interested in learning how to make the rose futomaki, you should check out this video here. There’s also a great recipe book called “The Art of Making Futomaki Matsuri Sushi” by Eiko Ryuzaki written in English and Japanese. And here’s a hometown connection: In 1993, the writer was part of a delegation that traveled to Chiba’s sister state Wisconsin, and she taught Wisconsinites how to make futomaki!
1. Apparently California rolls were first made with rice on the outside to hide the nori (seaweed) because people were weirded out by the thought of eating seaweed. This makes me think of when the other kids in elementary school freaked out because I had brought dried seaweed as part of my lunch.
2. I was told that no, you do not eat the bamboo mat unless you are a sushi-rolling panda.