Natto is fermented soy beans and is often eaten for breakfast in Japan. It is gooey and slimy, and also notoriously smelly, but it’s a nutritious and healthy food loved by a lot of Japanese people.
Natto is almost always eaten over rice. It is extremely simple to prepare: you mix Natto with soy sauce or Mentsuyu and stir vigorously until forming sticky goo around the beans. Then pour it over hot rice. You can add toppings like chopped green onions and Japanese mustard, but basically that’s it. There can’t be an easier breakfast than this. Natto has a lot of nutrients like vitamin B, K, protein, fiber, calcium, etc. Natto also contains its own enzyme good for preventing blood clots, so they say.
Of course, to appreciate this very nutritious and distinctive delicacy, you need to get over the smell. Some people say it smells rotten, but I would say it’s more like stinky feet. On top of that, it is has an unusual texture – very sticky and slimy. It is definitely an acquired taste, and may not be something most people are able to enjoy the first time they try it. Even a lot of Japanese people in Kansai (western region) are not accustomed to eating this … food. At the same time, I know a lot of people who are from Kansai and came to like eating Natto after growing up, so it’s not that hard to acquire the taste.
If you already like Natto, there are other recipes to try where you can use Natto. Hosomaki sushi rolls are a popular dish. Some people put Natto in Miso Soup, Okonomiyaki, and even Curry and Rice. Beware the smell might get even stronger in hot food… Start small; don’t make a big batch just in case.
If you want to try a very Japanese and very healthy food, and are willing to take on a challenge, here is the one to try. Good luck!
- 1 package Natto
- 1 Tbsp green onions, chopped
- 1 Tbsp Katsuobushi dried bonito flakes
- Japanese yellow mustard
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 3 Shiso leaves, thinly sliced, if you have them
- Steamed Rice
- Mix all the ingredients except Shiso and Steamed Rice. Stir very well until thick. Pour over the rice and top with Shiso.