Setsubun is almost upon us, the time when we usher in a new season – Spring! We call this Rishhun. But, don’t let the calendar fool you. It is still as cold as the top of Mount Fuji over here! Calendars lie, people!
However, one of the most important traditions of this fine holiday involves eating, as all good holidays do. Setsubun falls on February third, or the fourth depending on the year.
Ehou Maki or Fortune Rolls are the staple of Setsubun joy. Eat up your luck!
Basically, fortune rolls are just big fat sushi rolls eaten at this special time of year. For those who are new to sushi rolls, they are a combination of special ingredients, put in rice, wrapped in seaweed. Fortune rolls are usually fatter than standard rolled sushi. The sushi rolls usually contain seven ingredients, as seven is a lucky number. More on that below.
Tradition states that you have to eat the sushi roll uncut, in one continuous go. Cutting will shorten your luck. Cutting the role would be like cutting the last number off a lottery ticket, which is just stupid. Eating the whole long roll, will bring you long, continuous luck! You must also eat the sushi roll in the lucky direction of the year. For 2016, the lucky direction is 南南東 (South South East). Use a real compass, or just whip out the application on your smartphone to ensure you are facing the correct direction. You don’t want to go eating your way through a sushi roll facing North North West now do you? Use the handy guide below to help you this year.
Popular ingredients vary by region and family. Basically, if you stick to the basic seven ingredient rule, you will be ok. Everything from omelette to seafood is ok. Seven is the golden rule! Lucky seven!
You can try to make your own sushi rolls, but who are you kidding. Do you really want to wish for luck after slaving over hot rice, chopping ingredients, wrapping them all up, and praying for a decent outcome? No, just buy them and be merry. Supermarkets offer a lot of options, as do sushi restaurants. One of the best options, however, is the convenience store. I know, they have everything! You can pre-order, or buy on the day. Made fresh is best, after all.
This year, 7-Eleven is offering amazing options as usual. Below are a few examples.
It would seem they are breaking the seven rule unless you count the rice and seaweed. This roll contains fake crab, omelette, cucumber, tuna salad, and seafood mayonnaise. Yum!
This delicacy has beef, eggs in special sauce, and of course, konyaku noodles and spring onions simmered in sweet sauce. This seems safe for those who don’t like sushi – no fish and no craziness.
This seems like the lushest of all the options. Omelette, squid noodles, seafood, crab (who doesn’t love crab?), fish eggs, salmon, cucumber, and broiled tuna.
Well, tradition. I mean really. Tradition states that you have to eat the sushi roll, facing in the appropriate direction, in COMPLETE SILENCE. It gives you time to contemplate your thoughts, or at the very least, quiet down some rowdy brats for a minute, or take a moment of silence in a lovers’ quarrel. The only sound you will hear is the happy munch, munch, of sushi rolls. Who needs good fortune? A few moments of peaceful contemplation is just as good. Bite. Chew. Swallow. All good.
Basically, if you want some good eats this February 3rd, go out and get yourself some delicious fortune rolls. You will get some deliciousness, some nutrition, and some peaceful contemplation time! Maybe even good fortune!
Happy Eating, and Rolling! Good luck for all!