I just received a parcel from my uncle who is living in Japan. He made a visit to the ancient Rinnoji Buddhist temple in the famous village of Nikko and picked up a bunch of omamori (good-luck charms) and other temple goodies!
…He also packed up some interesting snacks that also luckily happened to be vegan. One of the things he sent over was dried natto. Probably, the place where you encounter it most often in our part of the world is in ‘natto rolls’ in Japanese restaurants, although it’s most commonly eaten over a bowl of rice. It’s made of fermented soy beans, and is a traditional food in Japan that has likely existed for thousands of years. Natto is another one of those soy products along with tofu and miso that traditionally provided the Japanese diet with proteins and other nutrients…I guess it’s only not as popular around here as tofu and miso because of its really strong flavour! It definitely took me a while to get used to it, but I love it now!
He sent me the freeze-dried kind that you can just pour into a bowl and much on for a little snack.
He also sent me tororo kombu (shaved kelp). It’s really easy to use – you can just add it to your soups, or even use it straight as a soup stock by adding it to hot water with soy sauce. For extra flavour, I add in a bit of veggie broth and it gives a really pleasant flavour. Tororo kombu is super healthy and some health authorities even say that it has anti-obesity effects!