Every New Years, my grandma used to make ozoni, a yummy makizushi recipe like I show you below, namasu, and even the cute little oden soup. Unfortunately, she’s getting up in age and isn’t able to make these dishes anymore… That’s where I stepped in!
Those who have been reading my article and recipes will be familiar with my family’s Namasu recipe, and this recipe, Makizushi, is also a traditional dish that we serve. I was always fascinated when I was little and watched my grandma prepare the rolls. She’d be up before I could even manage to roll myself out of bed and slave away at the stove, sautéing and chopping vegetables. Now that I’m the one making the makizushi, I have come to appreciate more so how much work and dedication my grandma gave to make these tasty rolls. There’s a lot of work involved!
That being said, you might want to consider giving yourself a lot of time to make this. It usually takes me about 3-5 hours, depending, and that’s if I prep the veggies a day beforehand. It’s a good thing this is once a year… I’m pooped (but satisfied) after I’m done!
The reason why it takes so long is because each vegetable needs to be sautéed by itself and cooled entirely. The vegetables can get easily spoiled if you try to roll them up while they’re still warm… So you need time to allow all of them to cool off. You have a total of 5 vegetables: carrots, green beans, shiitake mushrooms, gobo, and kanpyo to account for.
I like to line two baking sheets with foil and spread the veggies out. That way, they’re all cool and ready to go by the time I’m ready to roll the sushi.
Now, rolling them is also a different story– once you have everything prepared, I’m guessing you’re just about pooped. But there are certain steps in how you lay down the ingredients, which are shown below:
Before you start, you’re going to want to shred the unagi in your hands to fine, mushy bits, fan out your rice, add the vinegar mix while fanning and turning the rice, dampen the sushi nori with excess vinegar mix, and then start the process.
NOTE: For the sushi rice, you want to add enough vinegar where you can taste it, but not enough to where the rice is not sticking to itself. Gotta find that balance!
How to make Makizushi at Home
So, the way I lay down my ingredients is:
- Unagi– a strip of it
- Shiitake mushrooms– on top of unagi, about 6-8 pieces
- Carrots- wrap them around unagi and mushrooms, about 2
- Green beans– add on top of unagi, next to mushrooms
- Kanpyo– wrap around carrots
- Gobo- try your best to wrap them around kanpyo. Break gobo, if necessary.
…Then I roll it all up and there we go! If you noticed, I’m not quite in the middle of the roll; I’m more towards the lower half of the roll, which then will make the ingredients in the middle once I have rolled them up. It takes some getting used to, so it’s okay if they’re not perfect the first time!
When you’re done rolling, you’ll want to poke the vegetables that are sticking out into the roll. Don’t stab them in, but just gently try to keep them in place. After, roll the sushi up in wax paper and store. Why wax paper? It’s more permeable than plastic wrap, allowing the makizushi to breathe. 🙂
Anyway, please enjoy! This recipe does take long and is tedious, but the rewards of it are so tasty!
You can make a very stylish set up like this one:
FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE JAPANESE INGREDIENTS ARE, THIS IS WHAT EACH ONE IS:
- Unagi: Japanese word for freshwater eel. You’re looking for the one that’s already cooked and marinated for you. (Unless you want to do that yourself).
- Kanpyo: Dried shavings of gourd called calabash. They are white-ish in color and come in strips.
- Gobo: Burdock root. You’re looking for these fresh. Also, when you skin them, your hands can get irritated, so you may use gloves to do this, if you wish.
- Dashi Konbu/Kombu: Making soup broth by using kelp. Go to your local Japanese market and look for dashi konbu, not just regular konbu.
- Sushi Nori: these are dried seaweed squares that are specifically made for sushi rolls.
EQUIPMENT: You will need 2 baking sheets, aluminum foil, bamboo sushi roller, a cutting board, big basin in which to put the cooked rice in, a rice scooper, fan, skillet, a pot, a ladle, and one chopstick.
Easy Homemade Japanese Makizushi Recipe
- Wax paper (about 7-10 sheets)
- 2 c Heinz White Vinegar
- 2 c Japanese Vinegar
- 3-4 c soy sauce
- 3-4 c sugar
- 10 c rice, washed
- 1 sheet dashi konbu
- ½ c dried shrimp
- 1- 1½ lb unagi, cooked and marinated
- 1 orange
- 2 packages (4 oz each) kanpyo
- 1-2 packages dried shiitake
- 6 carrots
- ¾ lb green beans
- 3 gobo
- 7-10 sushi nori
A DAY BEFOREHAND, prep the carrots, green beans, and gobo.
Skin the carrots. Using a chopstick as your measuring stick, cut excess carrot off so that each lengthwise cut is about the same length as the chopstick. Slice lengthwise until the carrot is about as thick as your measuring chopstick. Put in water and set aside.
Wash and cut off ends of green beans. Slice lengthwise and set aside.
Skin gobo by running a knife on the outside of the root vegetable until all the skin is off. Using a chopstick as your measuring guide, cut the gobo in pieces. Then, slice lengthwise until each gobo piece is about the width of your chopstick. Soak in water, set aside.
DAY OF: Cook your rice. Set aside.
Mix vinegars together. Set aside.
Mix soy sauce with sugar. Set aside.
Prepare baking sheets with foil. Set aside.
Put a pot of water to boil (about 8-10 c), and once boiled, stick in konbu and shrimp (we will now refer to this as dashi). Turn off heat, let sit for 30sec-1min, then take out konbu and shrimp.
In warm water, rehydrate dried shiitake. After rehydrated, drain, and set aside.
Get skillet warm; put on medium heat. Add 1 scoop of dashi to skillet, then add mushrooms. Get soy sauce mix, and add enough to make a glaze on the mushrooms (~1/2 c). Once mushrooms are cooked and brown from soy sauce mix, deposit onto a baking sheet. Spread out.
Drain carrots from yesterday, then add to skillet. Add one scoop of dashi and let boil. Then add soy sauce mix, until carrots have a light glaze to them. Cook until tender, then set on baking sheet.
By now, the mushrooms should be cool enough to touch. Slice thinly and set on baking sheet.
Add 2 scoops of dashi to skillet, then add kanpyo. Allow to boil, then add soy sauce mix. Cook until kanpyo is tender and is light to dark brown. Set on baking sheet.
Add 2 scoops of dashi to skillet, then add green beans. Allow to boil until water almost evaporates, then add 1-2 more scoops dashi. Let water dry away again, and add soy sauce mix (about ½ c). Cook until beans are tender and glazed; set aside on baking sheet.
Kanpyo should be cool enough to touch. Use your chopstick measure and cut kanpyo to chopstick length. Set aside.
Add 2 scoops of dashi to skillet, then add gobo. Cook until dashi is almost evaporated. Stir constantly. Add soy sauce mix, and cook until the gobo is glazed and you’re able to bite through the gobo with ease. Set aside on baking sheet.
In a large basin, empty out your rice and fan. Fluff rice, and grab vinegar mix. Add half of vinegar mix to rice; fold and fan continuously to incorporate. If the rice does not taste like the vinegar, add more, but do not add so much that the rice falls apart. (You want it stick to itself somewhat). Fan until cool.
PREPARE ROLLS: Deposit extra vinegar sauce to a bowl to dip your hands in.
Take bamboo sushi roller and wet with water. Put on top of the cutting board.
Prepare sushi nori, by keeping it close to you.
Prepare sushi rice, by keeping it close to you.
Prepare cooked veggies, by keeping it close to you.
Take unagi, and in a bowl, mash with your fingers. Set close to you.
With clean hands, grab nori and lay on bamboo roller. Dip hands in vinegar and lightly dampen sushi nori.
Add 1 scoop of rice to nori, using your fingers to spread out the rice. Leave some room around the edges and near the top.
Add a strip of unagi towards the lower part of the sushi roll.
Add shiitake mushroom on top of unagi.
Add green beans on top of unagi, next to mushrooms.
Wrap 2 pieces of carrot around unagi.
Wrap 2 pieces of kanpyo around carrot.
Wrap 2 pieces of gobo around kanpyo, breaking and folding pieces, if necessary.
With a firm grip, roll the sushi , tucking in the vegetables as you start to roll.
Squeeze the roll every now and then to form the roll.
Release and position roll on wax paper. Roll up, and set aside.
Repeat until all rolls are finished.
TO CUT: Grab a knife and cut through orange. Then cut through sushi. This will allow the knife to go through without sticking to the rice. Once it starts to stick, rehydrate knife with orange. Cut rolls about 1 in in width. Enjoy!
Do you have any Japanese or Asian New Years dishes that require a lot of work like this traditional Makizushi Recipe? What are they? 🙂 Comment below!