We hit up Japan’s favorite 100 yen shop to see if we can be lucky on a budget.

Japan’s Setsubun celebration is coming up on February 3, which means it’s almost time to eat giant ehomaki sushi rolls for good luck. But what do you do if you’re not already lucky enough to have a whole bunch of sushi markets and specialty stores around you that are offering ehomaki?

Then you’ll have to make your own luck, by making your own ehomaki. That’s what our Japanese-language reporter Aoi Kuroneko did, and the first step on her road to good luck was a trip to 100 yen shop Daiso.

Daiso isn’t quite wonderous enough to sell pre-made ehomaki for 100 yen, but they do sell a piece of equipment for that price that they promise will make creating your own ehomaki a snap: the Futomaki Mold, or “Sushigata Makizushiyo Futomaki” if you’re asking for it in Japanese.

▼ The Futomaki Mold consists of two parts.

Ehomaki are themselves a subset of futomaki, or “thick roll” sushi. There’s no exact scientific threshold at which a futomaki becomes an ehomaki, but the general consensus is that ehomaki, as a sign of good things to come in the near future, should be stuffed with a large variety of delicious ingredients. Some say that seven fillings (aside from the rice) is the ideal lucky number, so that’s what Aoi went with.

Aoi’s seven fillings, pictured above, were:
1. Kanpyo / かんぴょう (simmered gourd),
2. Atsuyaki tamago / 厚焼き玉子 (thick omelet strips)
3. Cucumbers / きゅうり
4. Imitation crab / カニカマ
5. Sakura denbu / さくらでんぶ (pink fish flakes)
6. Shiitake mushrooms / しいたけ
7. Carrots / にんじん

That’s in addition to, of course, vinegared rice and nori (dried seaweed).

Once she had her ingredients sorted, it was time to see if Daiso’s 100-yen futomaki mold was up to the task. Aoi started by rinsing both the base and press/lid in cold water, to help prevent the rice from sticking to the plastic. Next, she filled the base up about 70-percent full with rice, making an indentation in the middle into which she inserted her fillings.

Once all seven were in there, she filled the rest of the base with rice, piling it above the rim, then pressed down with the lid.

This process actually felt more like making oshizushi, or “pressed sushi,” in which the ingredients are placed in a box and pressed into a dense, squared-off shape. But because of the cylindrical shape of the mold, Aoi ended up with a nice sushi cylinder, which she now needed to roll up in nori.

Laying out a strip of seaweed on a cutting board, Aoi removed the sushi mold’s lid and turned it over at one end of the nori. The lid is designed so that you can use it to press the bottom of the base to help dislodge the contents, but if you’re having trouble, you’ll want to resist the urge to use chopsticks or a rice scoop, as that might tear the cylinder. Instead, do what Aoi did and put a dab of vinegar on your fingers, then gently remove the cylinder by hand with a soft touch.

Despite spending only 100 yen on the mold, Aoi’s ehomaki came out looking quite beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, that she wanted to make extra sure it looked just as nice after it was cut.

Before slicing, Aoi took a moist towel and wiped her chef’s knife, and this did the trick in producing a smooth, clean cut.

While she was at Daiso, Aoi also picked up one of their hosomaki, or “narrow roll” sushi molds, which has three pieces.

The process is similar to the one for the futomaki mold, except that you put the rice and fillings into the core and then set the core into the base before pressing down with the press/lid.

And once again, the sushi rolls came out looking picture-perfect!

So you don’t need a sushi shop nearby to enjoy ehomaki, as long as you’ve got a Daiso and a compass so you know which way is east-northeast, this year’s lucky direction you’re supposed to face while you eat your Setsubun ehomaki.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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