Vegan Recipe for Autumnal Pumpkin Maki by Lina and Setsuko Kurata

This recipe for ‘aki no futomaki’ was created according to the precepts of ‘yakuzen’ which state that every meal must comprise five colours.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Lina Fievet

When putting together their recipe for futomaki, these thick rolls made from rice vinegar and vegetables, Lina and Setsuko Kurata called upon the precepts of yakuzen, a culinary science inherited from Chinese culture and imported into Japan during the Heian era, in the 8th century. From the terms yaku, medication, and zen, the dish, it refers to food that has preventative and curative properties against certain illnesses.

As the authors explain in the book Japon, la tradition du végétal, (‘Japan, the Vegetable Tradition’), yakuzen lies at the origin of traditional Japanese food (particularly in Buddhist monasteries) which is based around a rice dish, a soup and two or three side dishes. Another precept of yakuzen states that each meal must consist of five colours: yellow, green, red, black and white. These colours that make up these futomaki in which the chefs have incorporated edible autumnal flowers, chrysanthemums, or kiku in Japanese. 


For two futomaki rolls


40 g pumpkin

40 g fresh shiitake

30 g spinach

180 g cooked short-grain brown rice

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 pinch salt

1 pinch sugar

nori sheets

1 sushi mat

Soy sauce to serve


Cut the pumpkin into slices, keeping the skin on, and cut the shiitake into thin slices, then wash the spinach.
Cook the sliced pumpkin in a pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes on each side. Set aside.
Cook the mushrooms and spinach in the same pan over a medium heat for 3 minutes, turning halfway through. Set aside.
In a salad bowl, mix the warm cooked rice, vinegar, salt and sugar. Place a nori sheet lined up with the bottom edge of the sushi mat. The smooth part of the nori sheet should stick to the mat.
Cover the bottom half of the nori sheet with half of the rice. The layer of rice should not be thick (around 5 cm). Place a thin slice of pumpkin horizontally in the centre of the rice. Place the mushrooms and spinach in the same way, next to the pumpkin.

As soon as the rice and vegetables have been positioned correctly, gently lift the bottom edge of the sushi mat and roll it to bring the bottom edge of the nori sheet towards the upper edge of the rice. The rice and vegetables need to be rolled in the nori sheet. Unroll the bottom part of the mat from the nori sheet.

Use the mat to wrap the rest of the nori sheet around the roll. Do the same for the second roll.

Cut the rolls into 6 pieces. Serve with soy sauce.


Japon, la tradition du végétal (‘Japan, the Vegetable Tradition’) (2021), a recipe book by Setsuko and Lina Kurata published by éditions La Plage (not currently available in English).

Setsuko and Lina Kurata are mother and daughter. They created Japon, la tradition du végétal as a joint work that combines their own recipes with those of Setsuko’s mother (Lina’s grandmother) to produce a digest of three generations of family recipes. Japon, la tradition du végétal is their first book.

© Éditions La Plage